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Full text of "If - Worlds Of Science Fiction v02n05 [Quinn] (Nov 1953) (Gorgon776)"

WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION 



NOVEMBER 1953 • 




HOMEWARD BOUND, the spaceship approaches Earth after its 
exploration tour of the other members of the Solor family. Though 
still at a distance of several thousand miles, it has just started its 
engines to swerve into its braking orbit around the planet. Far 
"below," ir is doylight over Asia and the South Pacific. 



WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION 

NOVEMBER 1953 
All Stories New and Complete 

Editor: JAMES L. QUINN 

Aisociate Editor: LARRY T. SHAW 

Staff Artist: ED VALIGURSKY 

Cover by Ken Fagg: 
Surveying a Dying Sun 



SHORT NOVEL 




HOMO INFERIOR by Mori Wolf " 


42 


NOVELETTE 




THE CUSTODIAN by William Tenn *■=" 


4 


SHORT STORIES 




SEC NO EVIL by Dean McLaughlin 

WHERE THERE'S HOPE by Jerome Bixby^ 

TREES ARE WHERE YOU FIND THEM t-~ 

by Arthur Dekker Savage t 
THE EYES HAVE IT bv James McKimmey, Jr. 
I'LL KILL YOU TOMORROW by Helen Huber 
SHOW BUSINESS by Boyd Ellanby 
TURNING POINT by Alfred Coppel 


22 
36 

77 

83 

93 

109 

107 


FEATURES 




A CHAT WITH THE EDITOR 
PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE 
SCIENCE BRIEFS 


2 
90 
118 


COVER PICTORIAL: Return to Earth 





IF U published bi-monthly hy Qui.m PuhlislsiiiR Company. Inc. Volume 2, No. 5. 
Copyright 1953 hy Qumii Publishing Co., Inc. Oilice of publication, 8 Lord Street 
IlulTalo, New York. 1'iitr.r.l us Second t..llj S s Miner til Pom Olli.-r, Bull'alo, New 
York. SuWriution S'3.fi(l lor 12 issues in U.S. and Possessions; Canada $4 for 12 
issues; elsewhere $4.50 Allow four weeks lor change of address, All stories appear- 
ing in this magazine arc fiction; any similarly to actual persons is coincidental. 
Not responsible for unsolicited artwork or manuscripts. 35r a copy. Printed in U.S.A. 

EDITORIAL AND BUSINESS OFFICES, KINGSTON, NEW YORK 

Next issue on sale November 13tk 




A CHAT WITH 
THE EDITOR 



THERE SEEMS to be an affinity 
between science fiction and auto- 
mobiles. Crank up a fantasy fan 
and in a lot of cases he'll rattle on 
all afternoon about Maseratis, mul- 
tiple carburetors, Jaguars, torsion 
bars, Gordinis, rear engines, horse- 
power-weight ratios, Ferraris, the 
Le Mans race, chopping and chan- 
neling, Porsches, acceleration fig- 
ures, economy figures, Bugattis, fi- 
berglass bodies and the question of 
steam power. 

Why? I don't quite know, but 
I've studied enough case histories to 
be sure of my ground. Love of 
speculative fiction and love of auto- 
mobiles as something more than 
just basic transportation somehow 
go together — two hearts pierced by 
a single chrome-plated arrow. 

Writing on classic cars in True's 
Automobile Yearbook some time 
ago, Eugene Jaderquist mentioned 



that the car collector's other hobbies 
are almost invariably "music and 
science fiction.'" He gave no further 
explanation. This may have been 
because he had a hard enough time 
defining what a classic car is, and 
why one large, old luxurious vehicle 
is a classic while another isn't. 
Classic fans are real fanatics; they 
aren't even remotely interested in 
any other kind of car! 

For those in the audience who 
think an automobile is just a way 
of getting from one place to another 
(actually it is at least a fine form of 
entertainment and sport, and in 
some cases a complete way of life), 
I'll demolish one obvious answer. 
The thrill of traveling at high 
speeds has nothing to do with it. 
Concepts of vast size are much more 
typical of science fiction than con- 
ce pts of high speed ( f asc ination 
with the idea of getting from place 
to place virtually instantaneously 
strikes me as a slightly different 
horse). And a great many auto 
fans are much more interested in 
a car's size, shape, inner mechan- 
isms and/or rarity than what it 
will do when the throttle is floor- 
boarded. 

It doesn't seem to be the hot 
rodders who are stf bugs. It would 
be closer to the truth to say that 
the people in question stem from 
the ranks of the mechanically in- 
clined with a hunger for things 
unique. But I'm not sure that's the 
whole story. 

IN ANY CASE, the four-wheeled 
rocketeers may have the opportuni- 
ty to satisfy both tastes at once, if 
a fellow named Richard Arbib has 
his way. This gentleman is well 



known in the auto industry for his 
startling designs, which sometimes 
turn into real cars as in the case of 
the Packard Pan-American. And in 
his regular column in a recent issue 
of a new magazine tersely called 
Cars, he said: 

"The effect of unveiling the mys- 
teries of deep outer space, the con- 
templation of travel at the speed 
of light and perhaps even a step 
into another dimension, should be 
the most vibrant inspiration to car 
designers today." 

Arbib went on to tell how he 
asked his students at Pratt Institute, 
Brooklyn, to design vehicles from 
other worlds. I admit that when he 
said the instructions demanded that 
these "semi-abstract" vehicles "ex- 
press weird, exciting new forms," 
the pleasure I'd felt at first thought 
of the project began to diminish 
slightly. On top of that, he insisted 
that "the designer . . . must learn 
to use the black shadows of the 
moon to advantage," without a hint 
of how this was to be done. Maybe 
he meant that cars should be made 
of dark-green cheese — but I some- 
times suspect that Detroit is doing 
that already. 

On the subject of applying fea- 
tures of these other-world vehicles 
to today's automotive styling prob- 
lems, however, Arbib relieved my 
fears a bit. "The problem amounts 
to far more than including a few 
weird shapes of conical nature or 
tacking on sweeping appendages to 
form what appear to be shark-like 
mutations." There was more in the 
same comparatively realistic vein. 
Then: "The transparent bubbles of 
today's jet plane canopies were 
found long ago in the rocket ship 



stories. Hand controls have given 
way to pushbutton controls so, in 
projecting design, it's logical for 
pushbutton controls to give way to 
mind controls." 

Goody! 

I've always wanted a "space car," 
as Arbib kept referring to his futur- 
istic jak>py, with mind controls. It 
would allow no-armed driving, for 
one thing — an idea that has infinite 
possibilities. Better, it would give 
the poor backseat driver an even 
break ; she — it's usually a she — 
could put her mind to work too 
and perhaps even succeed in mak- 
ing the family spacer go in two di- 
rections at once. And if those mind 
controls were sensitive enough, the 
lucky, liberated driver could at last 
sit comfortably at home with a long 
cool drink and let the car take its 
usual Sunday afternoon tour of the 
200 mile-an-hour superhighways 
with nobody in it. 

Arbib boiled it down to this: 
"This does not mean that all space 
cars must look like rocket ships on 
wheels. As a matter of fact, wheels 
might be the first thing to go!" 

Me? Well, Maude, my old Chev- 
rolet, will have to last me for a 
while yet. But I have several pro- 
jects in mind. The one I cherish 
most fondly involves buying a little 
German Volkswagen — one of the 
most functional cars ever built, with 
a jewel of an air-cooled engine in 
the rear, but also one of the ugliest. 
I figure the original body would be 
easy to remove and would make an 
ideal doghouse. And with a simple 
aerodynamic body of fiberglass or 
something equally light replacing 
the old one, that baby would go! 

What are you driving? — Its 



Remember the story of the last man on Earth 
who heard a knock on his door? Fiyatil was in 
the same position, with the difference that he 
had chosen it deliberately. And when the 
"knock" — an alarm bell — came, that was dif- 
ferent too . . . 



THE CUSTODIAN 



By William Term 



Illustrated by Kelly Freas 



MAY9, 2190— Well, I did it! It 
was close, but fortunately I 
have a very suspicious nature. My 
triumph, my fulfillment was almost 
stolen from me, but I was too clever 
for them. 

As a result, I am happy to note 
in this, my will and testament, I 
now begin my last year of life. 

No, let me be accurate. This last 
year of life, the year that I will 
spend in an open tomb, really began 
at noon today. Then, in the second 
sub-basement of the Museum of 
Modern Astronautics, I charged a 
dial for the third successive time 
and got a .completely negative 
response. 

That meant that I, Fiyatil, was 
the only human alive on Earth. 
What a struggle I have had to 
achieve that distinction! 

Well, it's all over now, I'm fairly 
certain. Just to be on the safe side, 



I'll come down and check the an- 
throporneter every day or so for the 
next week, but I don't think there's 
a chance in the universe that I'll get 
a positive reading. I've had my last, 
absolutely my final and ultimate 
battle with the forces of righteous- 
ness — and I've won. Left in secure, 
undisputed possession of my coffin, 
there's nothing for me to do now 
but enjoy myself. 

And that shouldn't be too hard. 
After all, I've been planning the 
pleasures for years! 

Still, as I tugged off my suit of 
berillit blue and climbed upstairs 
into the sunlight, I couldn't help 
thinking of the others. Gruzeman, 
Prejaut and possibly even Mo-Diki. 
They'd have been hern with ino 
now if only they'd had a shade less 
academic fervor, a touch more of 
intelligent realism. 

Too bad in a way. And yet it 



WILLIAM TENN 



makes my vigil more solemn, more 
glorious. As I sat down on the 
marble bench between Rozinski's 
heroic statues of the Spaceman and 
Spacewoman, I shrugged and dis- 
missed the memories of Gruzeman, 
Pcrjaut and Mo-Diki. 

They had failed. I hadn't. 

I leaned back, relaxing for the 
first time in more than a month. My 
eyes swept over the immense bronze 
figures towering above me, two 
pieces of sculpture yearning agoniz- 
ingly for the stars, and I burst into 
a chuckle. The absolute incongru- 
ity of my hiding place hit me for 
the first time — imagine, the Mu- 
seum of Modern Astronautics! 
Multiplied by the incredible nerv- 
ous tension, the knuckle-biting fear 
of the past five days, the chuckle 
bounced up and down in my throat 
and became a giggle, then a splutter 
and finally a reverberating, chest- 
heaving laugh that I couldn't stop. 
It brought all the deer out of the 
museum park to stand in front of 
the marble bench where Fiyatil, the 
last man on Earth, qhoked and 
coughed and wheezed and cackled 
at his senile accomplishment. 

I don't know how long the fit 
might have held me, but a cloud, 
merely in the course of its regular 
duties as a summer cloud, happened 
to slide in front of the sun. That did 
it. I stopped laughing, as if a con- 
nection had been cut, and glanced 
upward. 

The cloud went on, and the sun- 
light poured down as warmly as 
ever, but I shivered a bit. 

Two pregnant young does came 
a little closer and stood watching 
as I massaged my neck. Laughter 
had given it a crick. 



"Well, my dears," I said, tossing 
them a quotation from one of my 
favorite religions, "it would seem 
that in the midst of life we are at 
last truly in death." 

They munched at me impassive- 



MAY 11, 2190—1 have spent 
the last two days putting my- 
self and my supplies in order and 
making plans for the immediate 
future. Spending a lifetime in sober 
preparation for the duties of custo- 
dianship is one thing. Finding sud- 
denly that you have become the 
custodian, the last of your sect as 
well as your race — and yet, pecul- 
iarly, the fulfillment of them both 
— that is quite another thing. I find 
myself burning with an insane 
pride. And a moment later, I turn 
cold with the incredible, the majes- 
tic responsibility that I face. 

Food will be no problem. In the 
commissary of this one institution, 
there are enough packaged meals 
to keep a man like myself well-fed 
for ten years, let alone twelve 
months. And wherever I go on the 
planet, from the Museum of 
Buddhist Antiquities in Tibet to 
the Panorama of Political History 
in Sevastopol, I will find a similar 
plenty. 

Of course, packaged meals are 
packaged meats: somebody else's 
idea of what my menu should be. 
Now that the last Affirmer has gone, 
taking with him his confounded 
austerity, there is no longer any 
need for me to be a hypocrite. I 
can at last indulge my taste for 
luxury and bathe my tongue in 
gustatory baubles. Unfortunately I 



THE CUSTODIAN 



grew to manhood under Affirmer 
dominion and the hypocricies I 
learned to practice in sixty cringing 
years have merged with the essen- 
tial substance of my character. I 
doubt, therefore, that I will be pre- 
paring any meals of fresh food from 
the ancient recipes. 

And then too, meals of fresh food 
would involve the death of crea- 
tures that are currently alive and 
enjoying themselves. This seems a 
bit silly under the circumstances . . . 

Nor did I need to put any of the 
automatic laundries into operation. 
Yet I have. Why clean my clothes, 
I asked myself, when I can discard 
a tunic the moment it becomes 
slightly soiled and step into a newly 
manufactured garment, still stiff in 
memory of the machine matrix 
whence it came? 

Habit told me why I couldn't. 
Custodian concepts make it impos- 
sible for me to do what an Affirmer 
in my position would find easiest: 
shrug out of the tunic on a clear 
patch of ground and leave it lying 
behind me like a huge, brightly 
colored dropping. On the other 
hand, much Affirmer teaching that 
my conscious mind has been stead- 
fastly rejecting for decades, I find 
to my great annoyance, has seeped 
into the unconscious osmotically. 
The idea of deliberately destroying 
anything as functional, if relatively 
unesthetic, as a dirty Tunic, Male, 
Warm-Season, Affirmer Ship-Clas- 
sification No. 2352558.3, appalls me 
— even against my will. 

Over and over again, I tell myself 
that Affirmer Ship- Classification 
Numbers now mean nothing to me. 
Less than nothing. They are as 
meaningless as cargo symbols on the 



Ark to the stevedores who loaded 
it, the day after Noah sailed. 

Yet I step into a one-seater flyball 
for a relaxing tour of the museum 
grounds and something in my mind 
says: No. 58184.72. I close my teeth 
upon a forkful of well-seasoned 
Luncheon Protein Component and 
note that I am chewing Ship-Clas- 
sification Numbers 15762,94 
through 15763.01. I even remind 
myself that it is a category to be 
brought aboard among the last, and 
only when the shipboard represen- 
tative of the Ministry of Survival 
and Preservation has surrendered 
his command to the shipboard 
representative of the Ministry of 
The Journey. 

Not a single Affirmer walks the 
Earth at the moment. Together 
with their confounded multiplicity 
of government bureaus— including 
the one in which all people profes- 
sing Custodianism had to be regis- 
tered, the Ministry of Antiquities 
and Useless Relics— they arc now 
scattered among a hundred or so 
plantctary systems in the galaxy. But 
all this seems to matter not a bit to 
my idiotically retentive mind which 
goes on quoting texts memorized 
decades ago for Survival Placement 
Examinations long since superseded 
and forgotten by those in authority. 

They are so efficient, the Affirm- 
ers, so horribly, successfully effi- 
cient! As a youngster, I confided 
to my unfortunately loquacious 
comrade, Ru-Sat, that I had begun 
creative painting on canvas in my 
leisure hours. Immediately, my 
parents, in collaboration with my 
recreational adviser, had me volun- 
teered into the local Children's 
Extra Work for Extra Survival 



WILLIAM TENN 



Group, where I was assigned to 
painting numbers and symbols on 
packing cases. "Not pleasure but 
persistence, persistence, persistence 
will preserve the race of Man," I 
had to repeat from the Affirmer 
catechism before I was allowed to 
sit down to any meal from that time 
on. 

Later, of course, I was old 
enough to register as a conscien- 
tious Custodian. "Please," my fa- 
ther choked at me when I told him, 
"don't come around any more. 
Don't bother us. I'm speaking for 
the entire family, Fiyatil, including 
your uncles on your mother's side. 
You've decided to become a dead 
man: that's your business now. Just 
forget you ever had parents and 
relatives — and let us forget we had 
a son." 

This meant I could free myself 
from Survival chores by undertak- 
ing twice as much work with the 
microfilm teams that traveled from 
museum to museum and archeologi- 
cal site to skyscraper city. But still 
there were the periodic Survival 
Placement Exams which everyone 
agreed didn't apply to Custodians 
but insisted we take as a gesture of 
good will to the society which was 
allowing us to follow our con- 
sciences. Exams which necessitated 
putting aside a volume entitled 
Religious Design and Decoration in 
Temples of the Upper Nile for the 
dreary, dingy, well-thumbed Ship- 
Classification Manual and Uniform 
Cargo Stowage Guide. I had given 
up the hope of being an artist my- 
self, but those ugly little decimals 
took up time that I wished to spend 
contemplating the work of men who 
had lived in less fanatic and less 



frenzied centuries. 

They still do! So powerful is 
habit that now that I have no ques- 
tions on dehydration to answer ever 
again, I still find myself doing the 
logarithmic work necessary to find- 
ing out where a substance is packed 
once its water is removed. It is hor- 
ribly frutrating to be mired after all 
in an educational system from 
which I turned completely away! 



OF COURSE, the studies I am 
involved in at the moment 
probably don't help very much. Yet 
it is very important for me to pick 
up enough information from the 
elementary educatories in this mu- 
seum, for example, to insure my not 
having to worry about the possi- 
bility of a flyball breakdown over a 
jungle area. I'm no technician, no 
trouble-shooter. I have to learn in- 
stead how to choose equipment in 
good working order and how to 
start operating it without doing any 
damage to delicate components. 

This technological involvement 
irritates me. Outside, the aban- 
doned art of 70,000 years beckons — 
and here I sit, memorizing dull facts 
about the power plants of worker 
robots, scrutinizing blueprints of the 
flyballs' antigrav screws, and acting 
for all the world like an Affirmer 
captain trying to win a commenda- 
tion from the Ministry of The Jour- 
ney before he blasts off. 

Yet it is precisely this attitude 
that is responsible for my being here 
now, instead of sitting disconsolate- 
ly aboard the Affirmer scout ship 
with Mo-Diki, Gruzeman and Pre- 
jaut. While they exulted in their 
freedom and charged about the 



THE CUSTODIAN 



planet like creaky old colts, I made 
for the Museum of Modern As- 
tronautics and learned how to 
operate and read an anthropometer 
and how to activate the berrillit 
blue. I hated to waste the time, but 
I couldn't forget how significanl u> 
an Affirmer, especially a modern 
one, is the concept of the sacredncss 
of human life. They had betrayed 
us once; they were bound to come 
back to make certain that the be- 
trayal left no loose ends in the form 
of Custodians enjoying fulfillment. 
I was right then, and I know I am 
right now — but I get so bored with 
the merely useful! 

Speaking of the anthropometer, 
I had a nasty shock two hours ago. 
The alarm went off — and stopped. 
I scurried downstairs to it, shaking 
out the berrillit blue suit as I ran 
and hoping desperately that I 
wouldn't blow myself up in the 
course of using it a second time. 

By the time I got to the machine, 
it had stopped caterwauling. I 
charged the all-directional dial over 
ten times and got no response. 
Therefore, according to the anthro- 
pometer manual, nothing human 
was moving about anywhere in the 
entire Solar System. I had keyed 
the machine to myself electro- 
cephalographically so that I 
wouldn't set off the alarm. Yet the 
alarm had gone off, indisputably 
recording the presence of humanity 
other than myself, however tempo- 
rary its existence had been. It was 
very puzzling. 

My conclusion is that some at- 
mospheric disturbance or faulty 
connection inside the anthropom- 
eter set the machine off. Or possi- 
bly, in my great joy over being left 



behind a few days ago, I carelessly 
d.iiiiaiv'd tlir apparatus. 

I beard the Affirmer scout ship 
radio the news of the capture of my 
colleagues to a mother vessel wait- 
ing beyond Pluto: I know I'm the 
sole survivor on Earth. 

Besides, if it had been skulking 
Affirmers who set the alarm off, 
their own anthropometer would 
have detected me at the same time, 
since I had been walking about 
unprotected by the insulating effect 
of berrillit blue. The museum would 
have been surrounded by fiyball 
crews and I'd have been caught al- 
most immediately. 

No, I cannot believe I have any- 
thing more to fear from Affirmers. 
They have satisfied themselves with 
their last-moment return of two 
days ago, I am positive. Their doc- 
trine would forbid any further re- 
turns, since they would be risking 
their own lives. After all, there are 
only 363 days left— at most — before 
the sun goes nova. 



MAY 15, 2190— 1 am deeply dis- 
turbed. In fact, I am fright- 
ened. And the worst of it is, I do not 
know of what. All I can do now is 
wait. 

Yesterday, I left the Museum of 
Modern Astronautics for a pre- 
liminary tour of the world. I 
planned to spend two or three weeks 
hopping about in my fiyball before 
I made any decision about where I 
would stay for the bulk of my year. 
My first error was the choice of 
a first destination. Italy. It is very 
possible that, if my little problem 
had not come up, I would have 
spent eleven months there before 



10 



WILLIAM TENN 



going on with my preliminary sur- 
vey. The Mediterranean is a dan- 
gerous and sticky body of water to 
anyone who has decided that, his 
own talents being inadequate or 
aborted, he may most fittingly 
spend his life cherishing the master- 
pieces presented to humanity by 
other, much more fortunate in- 
dividuals. 

I went to Ferrara first, since the 
marshy, reclaimed plain outside the 
city was a major Affirmer launching 
site. I lingered a little while at one 
of my favorite buildings, the Palaz- 
zo dei Diamond, shaking my head 
as helplessly as ever at the heavy 
building stones of which it is con- 
structed and which are cut and 
faceted like so many enormous 
jewels. To my mind, the city itself is 
a jewel, now somewhat dulled, that 
sparkled madly in the days of the 
Este court. One little city, one tiny, 
arrogant court — I would so happily 
have traded them for the two bil- 
lion steadfastly boorish Affirmers. 
Over sixty years of almost unchal- 
lenged political control, and did 
an entire planetful of them produce 
a single competitor for a Tasso or 
an Ariosto? And then I realized that 
at least one native Ferraran would 
have felt at ease in the world that 
has just departed from me, its last 
romantic. I remembered that 
Savonarola had been born in Fer- 
rara . . . 

The plain outside Ferrara also 
reminded me of the dour Domini- 
can. The launching field, stretching 
away for quite a few flat miles, was 
strewn with enough possessions dis- 
carded at the last moment to make 
a truly towering Bonfire of Vanities. 

But what pathetic vanities! Here, 



a slide rule that some ship's com- 
mander had ordered thrown out be- 
fore takeoff because the last in- 
spection had revealed it to be in 
excess of what the Ship-Classifica- 
tion Manual listed as the maximum 
number of slide rules necessary for 
a vessel of that size. There, a 
mimeographed collection of tally 
sheets that had been dropped out 
of the closing air lock after every 
last item had been checked off as 
per regulations — one check before 
the item by the Ministry of Survival 
and Preservation, and one check 
after the item by the Ministry of 
The Journey. Soiled clothing, some- 
what worn implements, empty fuel 
and food drums lay about on the 
moist ground. Highly functional ar- 
ticles all, that had somehow come 
in the course of time to sin against 
function — and had fallen swiftly 
from use. And, surprisingly, an oc- 
casional doll, not looking very much 
like a doll to be sure, but not look- 
ing like anything that had an ob- 
jective purpose either. Looking 
about me at the squalid debris 
dotted so rarely with sentiment, I 
wondered how many parents had 
writhed with shame when, despite 
their carefully repeated admoni- 
tions and advance warnings, the last 
search had discovered something in 
the recesses of a juvenile tunic that 
could only be called an old toy — or, 
worse yet, a keepsake. 

I remembered what my recrea- 
tional adviser had said on that sub- 
ject, long years ago. "It's not that 
we believe that children shouldn't 
have toys, Fiyatil; we just don't 
want them to become attached to 
any particular toy. Our race is going 
to leave this planet that's been its 



THE CUSTODIAN 



11 



home from the beginning. We'll be 
able to take with us only such 
creatures and objects as are us- 
able to make other creatures and 
objects which we'll need for sus- 
tenance wherever we come down. 
And because we can't carry more 
than so much weight in each ship, 
we'll have to select from among the 
usable objects those which are es- 
sential. 

"We won't take anything along 
because it's pretty, or because a lot 
of people swear by it, or because a 
lot of people think they need it. 
We'll take it along only because 
nothing else will do an important 
job so well. That's why I come to 
your home every month or so to 
inspect your room, to make certain 
that your bureau drawers contain 
only new things, that you're not 
falling into dangerous habits of sen- 
timentality that can lead only to 
Custodianism. You've got far too 
nice a set of folks to turn into that 
kind of person." 

Nonetheless, I chuckled to my- 
self, I had turned into that kind of 
person. Old Tobletej had been 
right: the first step on the road to 
ruin had been bureau drawers 
crammed with odds and ends of 
memory. The twig on which had 
sat the first butterfly I'd ever 
caught, the net with which I'd 
caught him, and the first butterfly 
himself. The wad of paper that a 
certain twelve-year-old lady had 
thrown at me. A tattered copy of a 
real printed book — no facsimile 
broadcast, this, but something that 
had once known the kiss of type in- 
stead of the hot breath of electrons. 
The small wooden model of Cap- 
t.iin Karma' s starship, Alan's Hope, 



which an old spacehand at the 
Lunar Line launching field had 
given me along with much misin- 
formation . . . 

Those paunchy bureau drawers! 
How my parents and teachers had 
tried to teach me neatness and a 
hatred of possessions! And here 
was I, now grown into man's estate, 
smug over my possession of a quan- 
tity of artistic masterpieces the like 
of which no Holy Roman Emperor, 
no Grand Khan, would have dared 
to dream about. 



I CHUCKLED once more and 
started looking for the launch- 
ing site robots. They were scattered 
about, almost invisible in the un- 
important garbage of the spaceship 
field. After loading the ship, they 
had simply wandered about until 
they had run down. I activated 
them once more and set them to 
cleaning the field. 

This is something I will do in 
every one of the two hundred or so 
launching sites on Earth, and this 
is the chief reason I have been 
studying robotics. I want Earth to 
look as pretty as possible when she 
dies. 1 never could be an Afifitmer, I 
am afraid; I form strong attach- 
ments. 

Feeling as 1 did, I just couldn't 
continue on my trip without taking 
the quickest, the most cursory 
glance at Florence. Naturally. 

But as T should have expected, I 
got drunk on oil and marble and 
mctalwork. Florence was empty of 
Florentines, but the glorious gal- 
leries were still there. I walked 
across the fine Ponte Vecchio, the 
only one of the famous Arno bridges 



12 



WILLIAM TENN 



to have escaped destruction in the 
Second World War. I came to 
Giotto's campanile and the bap- 
tistery doors by Ghiberti and I be- 
gan to feel despair, desperation. I 
ran to the Church of Santa Croce 
to see Giotto's frescoes and the Con- 
vent of St. Marie's for Fra Angelico. 
What good was one year, what 
could I see of even a single city like 
this in a bare twelve months? I 
could view, I could gallop by, but 
what would I have time to see? I 
was in the Boboli gardens trying 
frantically to decide whether to look 
up Michelangelo's David which I'd 
seen once before, or some Donatello 
which I hadn't, when the alarms 
went off. 

Both of them. 

The day before I'd left, I'd put 
together a small anthropometer that 
had originally been developed for 
locating lost colonists in the Venu- 
sian swamps. It was based on an 
entirely different design than the 
big machine that I'd found in the 
Hall of Gadgets. Since the circuits 
were unalike, and they had been 
planned for use in entirely different 
atmospheres, I believed they would 
serve as excellent checks on each 
other. I'd set the alarms to the fre- 
quency of my flyball communicator 
and had left the museum fairly con- 
fident that the only thing that could 
make both anthropometers go off 
would be the presence of a man 
other than myself. 

I flew back to the Museum, feel- 
ing very confused. Both pieces of 
equipment had responded the same 
way. The alarm had gone off, in- 
dicating the sudden materialization 
of Man on the planet. Then, when 
the stimulus had disappeared, both 



alarms had stopped. No matter how- 
many times I charged the direc- 
tional dials on each anthropometer, 
there was not the faintest suspicion 
of mankind within their extreme 
range, which is a little under one-* 
half of a light-year. 

The initial confusion has given 
way to a strong feeling of discom- 
fort. Something is very wrong here 
on Earth, something different than 
the sun getting ready to explode in 
a year. Possibly I have the non- 
technician's blind faith in a piece 
of apparatus which I don't fully 
understand, but I don't believe that 
the anthropometers should be act- 
ing this way unless something really 
abnormal is occurring. 

It has pleased me to look upon 
this planet as an ocean-going ship 
about to sink, and myself as the 
gallant captain determined to go 
down with her. Abruptly, I feel as 
if the ship were beginning to act like 
a whale. 

I know what I must do. I'll move 
a supply of food down to the Hall 
of Gadgets and sleep right under 
the anthropometers. The alarm 
usually lasts for a minute or two. I 
can leap to my feet, charge the all- 
direction dials and get enough of a 
reading right then to know exactly 
where the stimulus is coming from. 
Then I will pop into my flyball and 
investigate. It's really very simple. 

Only, I don't like it. 



MAY 17, 2190—1 feel thor- 
oughly ashamed of myself as 
only an old man who has been see- 
ing ghosts in the graveyard should 
be ashamed. That, in fact, is the 
only excuse I can make to myself. I 



u 



WILLIAM TENN 



I suppose, been thinking too 
about death recently. The 
coming extinction of Earth and the 
Solar System, my death which is 
inevitably involved with it, the 
death of millions of creatures of un- 
counted species, the death of proud 
old cities that Man has reared and 
occupied for centuries. . . Well, per- 
haps the association with ghosties 
and beasties and other strange 
phenomena is understandable. 

When the alarms went off again 
this morning, I got a directional 
reading. My destination was the 
Appalachian Mountain region in 
eastern North America. 

The moment I got out of the 
tlvball and took in the pale azure 
fog covering the cave mouth in 
front of me, I began to understand 
— and feel ashamed. Through the 
fog, which thinned in one place and 
thickened in others as I watched, I 
could see several bodies lying on the 
floor of the cave. Obviously, one of 
them had to be alive for the anthro- 
poineter to have reacted as soon as 
a patch of berrillit blue got meager 
enough to make the presence of a 
human mind detectable. I walked 
around to the back of the cave and 
found no exit. 

I went back to the museum in the 
flyball and returned with the neces- 
sary equipment. I deactivated the 
berillit blue fog at the entrance and 
walked inside cautiously. 

The interior of the cave, which 
had evidently been furnished as a 
domestic and comfortable hideout, 
was completely wrecked. Somebody 
had managed to get an activator as 
well as a quantity of berrillit blue 
which had not yet been given any 
particular shape and which, there- 



fore, was about as stable as hydro- 
gen and oxygen — if it is permissable 
to use a metaphor from chemistry 
to illustrate negative force-field 
concepts. The berrillit blue had 
been activated as a sort of curtain 
across the mouth of the cave and 
had blown up immediately. But, 
since the activator was still operat- 
ing and the entrance was fairly nar- 
row, it continued to function as a 
curtain of insulating negative force, 
a curtain which had holes in it 
through which one could occasion- 
ally "peek" by means of the anthro- 
pometer at the people imprisoned 
inside. 

There were three bodies near the 
entrance, two male and one female, 
rather youthful-looking. From the 
quantity and type of statuary on 
the walls of the cave, it was easy to 
deduce that these people had be- 
longed to one of the many numer- 
ous religious Custodian groups, 
probably the Fire in the Heavens 
cult. When, in the last week of the 
exodus, the Affirmers had de- 
nounced the Crohiik Agreement 
and stated that the Affirmation of 
Life required that even those who 
didn't Affirm had to be protected 
against themselves, these people had 
evidently taken to the mountains. 
Evading the subsequent highly ef- 
fective search, they had managed 
to stay hidden until the last great 
vessel left. Then, suspecting as I 
had that at least one scout ship 
would return for a final round-up, 
they had investigated the properties 
of the anthropometer and found 
out about the only insulator, berril- 
lit blue. Unfortunately, they had 
not found out enough. 

Deep in the rear of the cave, a 



THE CUSTODIAN 



15 



body twisted brokenly to meet me. 
It was a young woman. My first re- 
action was absolute astonishment 
at the fact that she was still alive, 
The explosion seemed to have 
smashed her thoroughly below the 
waist. She had crawled from the 
cave mouth to die interior whore 
the group had stored most of their 
food and water. As I teetered, mo- 
mentarily undecided whether to 
leave her and get medication and 
blood plasma from a hospital in the 
region or to risk moving her im- 
mediately, she rolled over on her 
back. 

She had been covering a year-old 
infant with her body, evidently un- 
certain when the benillit might 
blow again. And somehow, in spite 
of what must have been tremendous 
agony, she had been feeding die 
child. 

I bent down and examined the 
baby. He was quite dirty and cov- 
ered with his mother's blood, but 
otherwise unharmed. I picked him 
up and, in answer to the question 
in the woman's eyes, I nodded. 

"He'll be all right," I said. 

She started what may have been 
a nod in reply and stopped halfway 
through to die. I examined her 
carefully and, I will admit, a shade 
frantically. There was no pulse — no 
heartbeat. 

I took the child back to the mu- 
seum and constructed a sort of play 
pen for him out of empty telescope 
sections. Then I went back to the 
cave with three robots and had the 
people buried. I admit the gesture 
was superfluous, but it wasn't only 
a matter of neatness. However fun- 
damental our differences, we were 
all of Custodian persuasion, gen- 



erally speaking. It somehow made 
me feel as if I were snapping my 
ringers in the face of the entire smug 
Affirmation to respect their Fire-in- 
Heavcn eccentricities in this fash- 
ion. 

After the robots had completed 
their work, I placed a piece of the 
religious statuary {it was remark- 
ably badly done, by the way) at the 
head of each grave and even said a 
short prayer, or rather a sermon. I 
developed the thought that I had 
suggested approximately a week 
earlier to some deer — to wit, that in 
the midst of life we are in death. I 
did not joke about it, however, but 
spoke seriously on the subject for 
several minutes. The robots who 
were my audience seemed even less 
excited by the intelligence than the 
deer had been. 

Which is understandable. 



MAY 21, 2190—1 am annoyed. 
I am very, very annoyed and 
my great problem at the moment is 
that I lack an object on which to 
expend my annoyance. 

The child has been an incredible 
amount of trouble. 

I took him to the largest medical 
museum in the northern hemis- 
phere and had him thoroughly 
examined by the best pediatric diag- 
nostic machinery. He seems to be 
in excellent health, which is fortu- 
nate for both of us. And his dietary 
requirements, while not the same 
as mine, are fairly simple. I got a 
full tape on the kind of food he 
needs and, after a few readjust- 
ments in the commissary of the Mu- 
seum of Modern Astronautics, I 
have arranged for this food to be 



16 



WILLIAM TENN 



prepared and delivered to him 
daily. Unfortunately, he does not 
seem to regard this arrangement, 
which took up an inordinate 
amount of my time, as wholly satis- 
factory. 

For one thing, he will not accept 
food from the regulation robot 
nursemaid which I have activated 
for him. This, I suspect, is because 
of his parents' odd beliefs: he prob- 
ably has never encountered me- 
chanical affection before. He will 
only cat when I feed him. 

That situation alone is intoler- 
able, but I have found it almost 
impossible to leave him guarded by 
the robot nursemaid. Though he 
does little more than crawl, he- 
manages to do this at a surprisingly 
fast pace and is always disappear- 
ing into dark corridors of the mu- 
seum. Then an alarm is flashed to 
me and I have to break off my ex- 
amination of the gigantic palace of 
the Dalai Lama, the Potala, and 
come scudding back from Lhasa 
halfway across the world to the 
Museum. 

Even then it would take us hours 
to find him — and by "us" I mean 
every robot at my disposal — if I 
were not able to resort to the 
anthropometer. This admirable 
gadget points out his hiding place 
very swiftly; and so, pulling him 
out of the firing chamber of the 
Space Howitzer in the Hall of 
Weapons, I return him to his play 
pen. Then, if I dare, and if it is 
not time for him to be fed, I may 
return — briefly— to the Tibetan 
plateau. 

I am at present engaged in con- 
structing a sort of enormous cage 
for him, with automatic heating 



and toilet facilities and devices that 
will screen out undesirable animals, 
insects and reptiles. Though this is 
taking up far too much of my time, 
it will be an excellent investment, I 
believe. 

I don't know quite what to do 
about the feeding problem. The 
only solution I can find in any of 
the literature on the subject that 
offers promise is the one about 
letting him go hungry if he refuses 
food from normal sources. After a 
brief experiment, however, in 
which he seemed cheerfully re- 
signed to starvation, I was forced 
to give in. f now handle every one 
of his meals. 

The trouble is that I don't know 
whom to blame. Since I have been 
a Custodian from early manhood, I 
failed to see the need to reproduce. 
I have never been interested even 
slightly in children. I know very lit- 
tle about them and care less. 

I have always felt that my atti- 
tude was admirably summed up by 
Socrates' comments in the Sym- 
posium: "Who, upon reflecting on 
Homer and Hesiod and other such 
great poets, would not rather have 
their children than ordinary human 
ones? Who would not like to emu- 
late them in the creation of chil- 
dren such as theirs, which have pre- 
served their memory and given 
them everlasting glory? . . . Many 
are the temples which have been 
raised in their honor for the sake 
of such children as they have had, 
which were never raised in honor 
of anyone for the sake of his mor- 
tal children." 

Unfortunately, we are the only 
two humans alive on Earth, this 
child and I. We are going to our 



THE CUSTODIAN 



17 



doom together; we ride the same 
round tumbril. And the treasures of 
the world which were wholly mine 
less than a week ago now belong 
at least partially to him. I wish 
we could discuss the matters at 
issue, not only to arrive at more 
equitable arrangements, but also 
for the sheer pleasure of the dis- 
cussion. I have come to the con- 
clusion that I began this journal 
out of unconscious terror when I 
discovered, after the Affirmers left, 
that I*was completely alone. 

I find myself getting very wist- 
ful for conversation, for ideas other 
than my own, for opinions against 
which mine might be measured. 
Yet according to the literature on 
the subject, while this child might 
begin talking any day now, we will 
be immersed in catastrophe long 
before he learns to argue with me. 
I find that sad, however inevitable. 

How I wander! The fact is that 
once again I am being prevented 
from studying art as I would like. 
I am an old man and should have 
no responsibilities; I have all but 
laid down my life for the privilege 
of this study. It is extremely vexing. 

And conversation. I can just im- 
agine the kind of conversation I 
might be having with an Affirmer 
at the moment, were one to have 
been stranded here with me. What 
dullness, what single-minded bio- 
logical idiocy! What crass refusal 
to look at, let alone admit, the 
beauty his species has been seventy 
millennia in the making! The most 
he might have learned if he is a 
European, say, is a bit about the 
accepted artists of his culture. 
What would he know of Chinese 
painting, for example, or cave art? 



Would he be able to understand 
that in each there were primitive 
periods followed by eras of lusty 
development, followed in turn by a 
consolidation of artistic gains and 
an increase in formalization, the 
whole to be rounded off by a de- 
cadent, inner-groping epoch which 
led almost invariably into another 
primitive and lusty period? That 
these have occurred again and 
again in the major cultures so that 
even the towering genius of a 
Michelangelo, a Shakespeare, a 
Beethoven will likely be repeated — 
in somewhat different terms — in 
another complete cycle? That there 
was a Michelangelo, Shakespeare 
and Beethoven in each of several 
different "flower periods" in an- 
cient Egyptian art? 

How could an Affirmer under- 
stand such concepts when he lacks 
the basic information necessary to 
understanding? When their ships 
departed from the moribund solar 
system laden only with immediately 
usable artifacts? When they re- 
fused to let their offspring keep 
childhood treasures for fear of de- 
veloping sentimentality, so that 
when they came to colonize Pro- 
cyon XII there would be no tears 
for either the world that has died 
or the puppy that has been left 
behind? 

And yet history plays such in- 
credible jokes on Man! They who 
ran away from their museums, who 
kept nothing but a cold microfilm 
record of what lay in their invest- 
ment houses of culture, will learn 
that Man's sentimentality is not to 
be frustrated. The bleak, efficient 
ships that brought them to these 
alien worlds will become museums 



u 



WILLIAM TENN 



of the past as they oxidize out of 
existence on the strange sands. 
Their cruelly functional lines will 
become the inspiration for temples 
and alcoholic tears. 
1 What in the world is happening 
to me? How I run on! After all, I 
merely wanted to explain why I 
was annoyed. . . 



MAY 29, 2190—1 have made 
several decisions. I don't know 
if I will be able to implement the 
most important of them, but I will 
try. In order, however, to give my- 
self what I need most at the mo- 
ment — time — I will write much 
less in this journal, if I write any 
more at all. I will try very hard to 
be brief. 

To begin with the least impor- 
tant decision: I have named the 
child Leonardo. Why I chose to 
name him after a man who, for 
all of his talents — in fact, because 
of his talents — I regard as the most 
spectacular failure in the history 
of art, I do not know. But Leo- 
nardo was a well-rounded man, 
something which the Affirmers are 
not — and something which I am 
beginning to admit I am not. 

By the way, the child recognizes 
his name. He is not yet able to pro- 
nounce it, but it is positively mi- 
raculous the way he recognizes it. 
And he makes a sound which is 
very like mine. In fact, I might 
say — 

Let me go on. 

I have decided to attempt an 
escape from the Earth— with Leo- 
nardo. My reasons are many and 
complex, and I'm not certain that 
I understand them all, but one 



thing I do know. 

I have felt responsibility for a 
life other than my own and can no 
longer evade it. 

This is not a tardy emergence 
into Affirmer doctrine, but in a very 
real sense my own ideas come to 
judgment. Since I believe in the 
reality of beauty, especially beauty 
made with the mind and hands of 
man, I can follow no other course. 

I am an old man and will achieve 
little with the rest of my life. Leo- 
nardo is an infant: he represents 
raw potential; he might become 
anything. A song beyond Shake- 
speare's. A thought above Newton, 
above Einstein. Or an evil beyond 
Gilles de Retz, a horror past Hitler. 
Or sheer mediocrity. Or quiet, un- 
ostentatious usefulness. 

But the potential should be re- 
alized. I think, under my tutelage, 
it is less likely to be evil and there / 
have a potential to be realized. 

In any case, even if Leonardo 
represents a zero personally, he may 
carry the germ-plasm of a Buddha, 
of a Euripides, of a Freud. And 
that potential must be realized. . . 

There is a ship. Its name is Man's 
Hope and it was the first ship to 
reach the stars, almost a century 
ago when it had just been discov- 
ered that our sun would explode 
and become a nova in a little less 
than a hundred years. It was the 
ship that discovered for Man the 
heart-quickening fact that other 
stars have planets and that many 
of those planets are habitable to 
him. 

It was a long time ago that Cap- 
tain Karma brought his starship 
back down on the soil of Earth 
with the news that escape was pos- 



THE CUSTODIAN 



19 



sible. That was long before I was 
born, long before humanity divided 
unequally into Custodian and 
Affirmer and long, long before 
either group were the unwinking 
fanatics they had become five years 
ago. 

The ship is in die Museum of 
Modern Astronautics. I know it 
has been kept in good condition. I 
also know that twenty years ago, 
before the Affirmcrs had developed 
the position that absolutely nothing 
might be taken priysically from a 
museum, the ship was equipped 
with the latest Leugio Drive. The 
motive was that, if it were needed 
on Exodus Day, it might make the 
trip to a star in moriths instead of 
years or centuries. 

The only thing that I do not 
know is whether I, Fiyatil, the Cus- 
todian of Custodians and art critic 
extraordinary, can learn to run it 
in the time that Leonardo and I 
have left. 

But as one of my favorite comic 
characters remarked about the pos- 
sibility of a man chopping his own 
head off: a man can try. . . 

There is something else on my 
mind, even more exciting in a way, 
but this comes first. I find myself 
looking at the Sun a good deal 
these days. And very scarchingly, 
too. Very. 



NOVEMBER 11, 2190—1 can 
do it. With the help of two 
robots which I will modify for the 
purpose, I can do it. Leonardo and 
I could leave immediately. But I 
have my other project to complete. 
And this is my other project. I 
am going to use all the empty space 



in the ship. It was built originally 
for different motors and a very 
large crew, and I am going to use 
that space as a bureau drawer. Into 
that bureau drawer I will stuff the 
keepsakes of humanity, the treas- 
ures of its childhood and adoles- 
cence — at least as many as I will 
be able to get in. 

For weeks I have been collecting 
treasures from all over the world. 
Incredible pottery, breath-taking 
friezes, glorious statuary and oil 
paintings almost beyond counting 
litter the corridors of the museum. 
Brueghel is piled on Bosch, Bosch 
piled on Durer. I am going to bring 
a little of everything to that star 
toward which I point my ship, a 
little to show what the real things 
were like. I am including things 
like the holograph manuscripts of 
Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, 
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Go- 
gol's Dead Souls, Mark Twain's 
Huckleberry Finn, and holographs 
of Dickens' letters and Lincoln's 
speeches. There are many others, 
but I cannot take everything. With- 
in responsible limits, I must please 
myself. 

Therefore, I am not taking any- 
thing from the Sistine Chapel ceil- 
ing. I have instead carved out two 
bits of the Last Judgment instead. 
They are my favorites : the soul that 
suddenly realizes that it is con- 
demned, and the flayed skin on 
which Michelangelo painted his 
own portrait. 

The only trouble is that fresco 
weighs so much! Weight, weight, 
weight— it is almost al I I think 
about now. Even Leonardo follows 
me about and says "Weight, weight, 
weight!" He pronounces nothing 



20 



WILLIAM TENN 



else so well. 

Still what should I take of Pi- 
casso? A handful of oils, yes, but 
I must take the. Guernica. And 
there is more weight. 

I have some wonderful Russian 
copper utensils and some Ming 
bronze bowls. I have a lime spatula 
from Eastern New Guinea made of 
oiled wood that has a delightfully 
carved handle (it was used in chew- 
ing betel nut and lime). I have a 
wonderful alabaster figure of a cow 
from ancient Sumer. I have an in- 
credible silver Buddha from north- 
ern India. I have some Dahomean 
brass figures of a grace to shame 
Egypt and Greece. I have a carved 
ivory container from Benin, West 
Africa, showing a thoroughly Fif- 
teenth Century European Christ on 
the cross. I have the "Venus" of 
Willendorf, Austria, the figure that 
was carved in the Aurignacian 
epoch of the paleolithic and which 
is part of the artistic tradition of 
the "Venus" art of prehistoric man- 
kind. 

I have miniatures by Hilliard 
and Holbein, satiric prints by Ho- 
garth, a beautiful Kangra painting 
of the eighteenth century on paper 
that shows little Mughal influence, 
Japanese prints by Takamaru and 
Hiroshige — and where may I stop? 
How may I choose? 

I have pages from the Book of 
Kells, which is an illuminated 
hand-executed manuscript of al- 
most unmatched beauty; and I 
have pages from the Gutenberg 
Bible which is the first book printed 
from movable type and which has 
illuminated pages to give the effect 
of a hand-copied manuscript, be- 
cause the printers didn't want their 



invention discovered. I have a 
tughra of Sulaiman the Magnifi- 
cent, a calligraphic emblem that 
formed -headings for his imperial 
edicts; and I have a Hebrew Scroll 
of the Law whose calligraphy out- 
shines the jewels which encrust the 
poles on which it is wound. 

I have Coptic textiles of the 
sixth century and Alencon lace of 
the sixteenth. I have a magnificent 
red krater vase from one of Athens' 
maritime colonies and a wooden 
figurehead of a minister from a 
New England frigate. I have a 
Rubens nude and an Odalisque by 
Matisse. 

In architecture — I am taking the 
Chinese Compendium of Architec- 
ture which I think has never been 
equalled as a text and a model of 
a Le Corbusier house built by him. 
I would love to take one building, 
the Taj Mahal, but I am taking 
the pearl that the Mogul gave to 
her for whom he built the ineffable 
tomb. It is a reddish pearl, shaped 
like a pear and about three and a 
half inches long; shortly after it 
was buried with her, it turned up 
in the possession of an Emperor of 
China who set it on gold leaves 
and surrounded it with jade and 
emeralds. At the turn of the nine- 
teenth century, it was sold some- 
where in the Near East for a tiny, 
ridiculous sum and ended in the 
Louvre. 

And a tool: a small stone fist- 
axe, the first thing known to have 
been made by human creatures. 

All this I have collected near the 
ship. But I've sorted none of it. 
And I suddenly remember, I have 
collected as yet no furniture, no 
decorated weapons, no etched 



THE CUSTODIAN 



21 



I must hurry, hurry! 



NOVEMBER 2190— Shortly 
after I finished the last entry, 1 
glanced upward. There were green 
specks on the sun and strange 
orange streamers seemed to plume 
out to all points of the compass. 
Evidently there was not to be a 
year. These were the symptoms of 
death that the astronomers had 
predicted. 

So there was an end to my col- 
lecting — and my sorting was done 
in less than a day. The one thing I 
suddenly found I had to do, when 
it became obvious that my sections 
of Michelangelo would be too 
heavy, was to go to the Sistine 
Chapel ceiling after all. This time 
I cut out a relatively tiny thing — 
the finger of the Creation as it stabs 
life into Adam. And I decided to 
take Da Vinci's La Gioconda after 
all, even though his Beatrice d'Este 
is more to my taste: the Mona 
Lisa's smile belongs to the world. 

All posters are represented by one 
Toulouse-Lautrec. I dropped the 
Guernica; Picasso is represented 
instead by an oil from his blue 
period and a single striking ceramic 
plate. I dropped Harold Paris' The 



Eternal Judgment because of its 
bulk; all I have of his now is the 
print Burchenwald #2, "Where 
Are We Going?" And somehow or 
other, in my last-minute haste, I 
seem to have selected a large num- 
ber of Safavid bottles from Iran of 
the XVI and XVII centuries. Let 
future historians and psychologists 
puzzle out the reasons for my 
choices: they are now irrevocable. 

We are proceeding toward Alpha 
Centauri and should arrive in five 
months. Hdw will we and all our 
treasures be received, I wonder? I 
suddenly feel insanely cheerful. I 
don't think it has anything to do 
with my rather belated realization 
that I, who have so little talent and 
have failed so miserably in the arts, 
will achieve a place in the history 
of art like no other man — a kind 
of esthetic Noah. 

No, it is the fact that I am carry- 
ing both the future and the past to 
a rendezvous where they still have 
a chance to come to terms. A mo- 
ment ago Leonardo bounced a ball 
against the visiplate and. looking 
at it, I observed that old Sol was 
expanding apoplectically. As I re- 
marked to him then: "I find, to 
my astonishment, that in the midst 
of death, I am — at last, at last! — 
truly in life." 



if 



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See No Evil 



Froman was a totally un-mad scientist; if anything, 
he was too sane for his own good. That spark on the 
moon intrigued him — why shouldn't he investigate it? 

By Dean McLaughlin 

Illustrated by Poul Orban 



CHARLES FROMAN didn't 
know there was anyone but 
himself in the observatory until he 
heard somebody open the door to 
the dome, and then the hollow- 
metallic sound of feet on die en- 
closed, steep stairway which hugged 
the curve of the outside wall. Per- 
haps, Froman thought, it was Jame- 



son, working late in his office and 
coming up for a chat. But that pos- 
sibility, he had to admit, was un- 
likely : an astronomer on visual ob- 
servation is not particularly dis- 
posed to conversation. There was 
too much to concentrate upon, 
without talking. And everyone knew 
what he was doing tonight: it was 




there on the work schedule. 

He frowned, leaned back from 
the telescope's eyepiece, and looked 
across the dome to the stairhead. 

A man in a brown checked over- 
coat emerged from the stairwell, 
taking each step heavily as he came. 
The light on the wall nearby re- 
vealed him as a mass of form and 
shadow. Except for the dull red 
glow over the switchboard panel, it 
was the only illumination in the 
dome. That and the flood of moon- 
light pouring through the open slot 
in the hemispheric roof. 

Froman did not recognize the 
man; certainly, he was no one in 
the department. And no one else 
had any business here at this hour 
of the night. 

The stranger's hat brim cast a 
shadow over most of his face, re- 
vealing only the tip of his nose and 
the chin which was giving way 
gradually to plumpness. But even 
the heavy overcoat could not dis- 
guise the man's build: he ate a little 



too much, and exercised not quite 
enough. 

He paused a moment at the head 
of the stairs, with the lone light be- 
hind and to the right of his shoul- 
der. He stood there, feet placed 
firmly, peering across the darkened 
dome. Then, as his eyes adjusted to 
the dimness, he saw Froman at the 
telescope and came across the floor. 
His footsteps thudded hollowly as 
he passed over the hatchway used 
for bringing up heavy equipment. 
Froman watched him come, and, 
when he was near, said, "How did 
you get in?" 

"I had a key," the man answered 
offhandedly. "You're Charles Fro- 
man, aren't you?" His tone immedi- 
ately challenged any denial. 

When Froman nodded, the man 
reached inside his coat and brought 
out a wallet. Propping it open with 
his 'thumb, he offered it to the as- 
tronomer for inspection. "The 
name's Mackey. I'm from Military 
Security. On business." His voice 




24 



dean Mclaughlin 



echoed strangely in the dome, and 
the way he said "Military Security" 
included capitalization. 

Because it was dark in the dome, 
Froman could not see the card in 
the wallet until he flashed a penlite 
on it. The card only repeated the 
man's claims. Froman turned the 
beam on the man's face. The secur- 
ity agent blinked heavy eyelids, then 
squinted from under overhanging 
brows. 

Froman snapped off the penlite 
and returned it to the inside pocket 
of his suitcoat, underneath the shab- 
by overcoat he wore against the 
cold of waning autumn. "I don't 
quite see what you'd want with 
me," he said uncertainly. 

"We're the ones who'll decide 
that," Mackey answered shortly. "I 
just want to talk to you." 

Froman had bent over the tele- 
scope's eyepiece, but now he looked 
up again. "What about?" 

"Let's just say we're interested in 
your work." 

"But this is hardly the time — '* 

The agent didn't let him finish. 
"The fewer the people who know 
about my coming here, the better. 
They might guess too much. And 
no one will interrupt us this time of 
night, either." He jammed his 
hands in his coat pockets, defending 
them against the cold. "This is a 
confidential visit," he went on. "We 
don't want anyone to know, and 
you aren't to repeat anything about 
it. Not anything. You understand?" 

THE ASTRONOMER nodded. 
"I suppose so. But I still don't 
understand what you want with 
me. All I do is teach a few classes 



and some research. Wliat's that got 
to do with . . . Military Security?" 
He sounded puzzled. He was. 

"The less you know, the better 
we'll all feel," Mackey told him eva- 
sively. He continued, carefully de- 
ciding exactly what he wanted to 
say before saying it. "There's some 
question about how much you 
know, and if you know less than 
we're afraid you do, we'd rather this 
visit didn't tell you more." 

"In other words, I'm to be 
quizzed about something I don't 
know." 

"We're sure you know something. 
The question is: how much?" The 
agent hunched his shoulders against 
the cold. "Look. Can't we go some- 
where else and talk? It's cold up 
here." 

"It's always cold here in the win- 
ter," Froman answered. "We get 
used to it." 

"Well, I'm not used to it." 

"I didn't ask you to come. If you 
prefer, you can come to my office 
tomorrow afternoon. You can talk 
to me then." 

"We'll talk now. The longer it's 
put off, the more danger there is." 

"I'm busy right now." 

"We're not in the habit of wait- 
ing." 

"Half of astronomy is waiting for 
something to happen," Froman 
said. He was trying to be patient. 
"And when it does, an astronomer 
doesn't like to be interrupted. You 
can wait a little while — what goes 
on in the sky doesn't." 

"How long will it take you?" the 
agent grumbled. 

"That depends. You might say 
I'm waiting for something I think 
might happen. If I do see some- 



SEE NO EVIL 



25 



thing tonight, I might be quite a 
while." He looked straight at 
Mackey. 

The security agent swung away. 
There wasn't much point in arguing 
with the man. "Mind if I smoke?" 

"No. Go ahead," Froman an- 
swered. He added pointedly, 
"There's an ashtray on the table 
over there," He waved a hand to- 
ward the well-used table standing 
beside the larger of the two piers 
which supported the telescope. 
. The red glow of the lamp on the 
switchboard mounted against the 
larger pier fell on the twin-bladed 
knife switches and the table below 
it. Mackey found the ashtray — a 
very small one — on one corner of 
the table, most of which was occu- 
pied by a stack of photographic 
plates, a small radio, and an elec- 
trically driven sidereal clock and 
red spotlight combination. Sullenly, 
the agent lit up and waited. He 
glowered resentfully at the no- 
longer-used pendulum clock on the 
far side of the switchboard. 

Charles- Froman dismissed the 
agent from his thoughts as he bent 
over the telescope's eyepiece. Be- 
sides his ancient overcoat he wore 
a fur-lined cap with ear flaps, and 
for the most part kept his hands in 
his pockets. He sat crouched on the 
adjustable-height seat mounted on 
a wooden frame resembling a relic 
of the Spanish Inquisition. 

The moon was large under the 
magnification of the 37-inch reflec- 
tor. Froman could only see a small 
fraction of it at a time. But he only 
wanted to see one spot, an area 
shaped like a circle and just ninety 
miles across. It was in the center 
of his field of vision, a low-walled, 



eroded crater without a central 
peak, having a fairly level interior 
broken by only one or two second- 
ary craters of any appreciable size. 
Under the lunar noon, the features 
were not very obvious— there was 
not enough shadow. 

After five minutes of searching 
the walled plain, he sat back and 
changed eyepieces — the new one 
providing for greater magnification. 
He took advantage of the moment 
to relax his cramped muscles before 
bending over the new eyepiece. 

A while later, he tried an even 
more powerful lens, but the seeing 
wasn't good enough, As he shoved 
the seat-rack away, he muttered to 
himself, "I might as well throw 
those plates away. If I can't see any- 
thing, they won't show anything 
either." But he knew he'd develop 
the plates anyway, and study them 
carefully, and compare them with 
earlier plates and photos dating 
back many years. There was always 
the chance of something else show- 
ing up, something other than the 
thing he had been looking for. As- 
tronomy always was waiting for 
something to happen — or, more ex- 
actly, waiting to find out if some- 
thing had happened. After that 
came the other half, the questions: 
what had happened, exactly, and 
why? 

"Through now?" the sulking se- 
curity agent wanted to know. He 
was on his third cigarette, and his 
fingers and ears were getting cold. 

Froman had practically forgotten 
the intruder. "I'll be with you in a 
minute," he promised without look- 
ing around. He stretched his long- 
boncd body to get the kinks out, 
then turned the wheel fixed to the 



26 



dean Mclaughlin 



side of the telescope barrel, the 
wheel which disengaged the instru- 
ment from the tracking mechanism. 
Coming around, he strode across 
the dome to a point below and 
slightly to one side of the open slot 
through which the moonlight 
splashed on the floor and the tele- 
scope mountings. He hauled on the 
pulley rope until the shutters 
groaned toward each other and col- 
lided with a solid sound that echoed 
in the dome for a long time. Brush- 
ing hands on his shabby coat, he 
came back and opened the switches 
on the panel. The red light went 
abruptly out. He lifted the stack of 
exposed plates from the table. 

"All right. Let's go." 

The agent crushed his cigarette 
in the ashtray. The three butts near- 
ly filled its small bowl. "About 
time," he grumbled. He stuffed his 
hands in the deep pockets of his 
overcoat and followed Froman over 
to the stairs. 

"Sec anything?" he asked the as- 
tronomer gruffly. 

"Nothing beyond the ordinary," 
Froman replied uninterestedly, 
starting down the stairs. He held 
the plates he carried carefully with 
both hands. 

"What d'you mean by that?" 
Mackey wanted to know. 

Froman's feet hesitated on the 
steps, but he did not turn. After a 
moment he gave a small shrug. 
"Nothing anybody else hasn't ever 
seen, I guess," he explained. "Less 
than some, even." 

"You were expecting you 
would?" 

"Something like that," Froman 
admitted absently. "I sort of hoped, 
but the phase is wrong to hope too 



much. But there is something funny 
up there." 



HE HAD REACHED the bot- 
tom step. Holding the plates 
against him with one hand, he 
turned the doorknob with the other. 
Once through, he set the plates on 
a windowsill beside the door and 
waited for Mackey. Then he 
snapped off the light at the top of 
the stairs, closed and locked the 
door. 

When Froman turned away from 
the door, Mackey was glancing at 
the three green file cases standing in 
the corner formed by the pyramidal 
pier supporting the telescope's 
weight and the wall which sep- 
arated the dome section from the 
remainder of the observatory. Fro- 
man noticed the agent's curiosity, 
but said nothing to remove it.' 

He collected the plates from the 
windowsill and pushed through the 
heavy fire door beside the cabinets. 
Sullen, Mackey followed. 

The corridor had windows on the 
left side, and two doors on the 
other. Farther along, just short of 
where the corridor broadened sud- 
denly to the right, the window side 
was flanked by three tables, one of 
which bore a covered mimeograph 
machine. 

Froman paused at the first door. 
"Just a minute while I drop these 
off." he said, and ducked inside the 
darkroom before Mackey could re- 
ply. He returned a moment later 
without the plates. 

The second door was already 
open. Froman reached around the 
jamb and snapped on the light. It 
was one of the old type of wall 



SEE NO EVIL 

switches; not pushed or flipped, but 
twisted. He motioned Mackey in 
ahead of him. "My office," he said 
simply. 

The office was deep, well lighted, 
indifferently furnished, and clut- 
tered. The center was dominated 
by four long tables which served as 
desks. In a corner by one of the 
two windows was a typewriter on a 
loWj wheeled cable. In the corner 
to the right of the door were two 
high, deep-shelved bookcases. In 
another corner was a cot, where 
From an sometimes rested while 
waiting his turn at the telescope 
on the second half of a split night. A 
file cabinet stood at the foot of the 
cot, and beyond the cabinet an 
open doorway led into another, 
smaller room. 

Mackey advanced into the room 
and glanced over the tables. They 
were piled with papers, old blue- 
books, scientific journals printed in 
a variety of languages, a few news- 
papers, and miscellaneous articles 
of equipment. The agent scowled at 
a booklet with Russian characters 
on its cover. He picked up a paper- 
weight and weighed it idly in his 
hand. It was a sunburst of large 
quartz crystals, very shiny and strik- 
ing under the light. In the corners 
where the crystals joined, he saw a 
few traces of dried clay. He looked 
at Froman questioningly. 

"I found it on a field trip," the 
astronomer explained. 

The security agent frowned. "But 
you're an astronomer. I don't get 
it." 

"It's my hobby: geology." 

"A hobby," the agent echoed. 
"Yes — it's in your record. Sort of 
odd for a star gazer, isn't it?" 



27 

"Not really. After all, the earth is 
one of the planets, and we can study 
it in more detail than any other. 
What's odd about that?" 

"Nothing," the agent mumbled. 

Froman pulled off his fur lined 
cap. "You can take your coat off. 
It's warm down here. Just leave it 
anywhere." He removed his own 
overcoat and laid it on the cot, 
stuffing the cap into one of the 
pockets. 

Mackey folded his coat over the 
back of the chair and set his hat 
on top of it. Without being invited, 
he appropriated the swivel chair 
which faced a part of the table 
spread with a large green blotter of 
ancient vintage and backed by a 
row of reference texts. "How do you 
guys stand it?" he asked. "The cold, 
I mean." 

Froman turned his head half- 
way toward him. "Pneumonia is an 
occupational disease." 

"Really?" 

Froman's grin showed teeth. "Do 
Eskimos catch cold?" he asked 
pointedly. "But if you think it was 
chilly up in the dome, you should 
have seen the North Atlantic dur- 
ing the war," He shivered in recol- 
lection. 

The agent swung around and 
stared at the wall behind him, see- 
ing for his trouble a reproduction 
of a painting by an artist with im- 
agination and a way with oils that 
produced near-cameralike detail : a 
spaceship — hypothetical, of course 
— newly landed on the moon; men 
in outfits like diving suits working 
in the foreground; and a back- 
ground of savagely rugged peaks 
just beginning to catch the first 
harsh rays of the rising sun. 



28 



dean Mclaughlin 



Froman noticed Mackey's inter- 
est. "There's a story about that 
painting," he said. "Seems that once 
one of us astronomers saw a koda- 
chrome of it, and he thought the 
government was doing more than 
it was telling with its rocket experi- 
ments." 

Mackey's eyes snapped around 
and fixed on Froman. Then he 
grinned suddenly. "Heads in the 
clouds." he observed contemptu- 
ously. "Don't you star gazers ever 
look where you put your feet?" 

"When I'm on vacation," Fro- 
man answered. He nodded toward 
the quartz paperweight. "But Aesop 
wisecracked about an astrologer 
who didn't, if that makes you any 
happier." 

Mackey held his peace. He 
studied Froman's lean, narrow- 
nosed face and wide, squarish fore- 
head through momentarily slittcd 
eyes. He dug a cigarette pack from 
his pocket, offered it and was re- 
fused, took one himself and tapped 
it on his thumbnail before placing 
it between his lips. He lit the kitch- 
en match by holding it in one hand 
and nicking the head with his 
thumbnail. He looked around for 
an ashtray, but there were none in 
evidence. Froman pushed a waste- 
basket toward him with his foot. 

The security agent nodded 
acknowledgement. The security 
agent . . . 



FROMAN remembered then 
why the man was here. For a 
time they had been almost friendly, 
but that time was behind them 
now. This man suspected him of 
something — his manner was almost 



an open accusation. It didn't par- 
ticularly matter what the some- 
thing was, but Froman felt an 
angry pang at the injustice of it. 
This man barging in in the middle 
of the night, acting secretive and 
hinting subtle threats. Froman 
planted himself stiffly in a straight 
backed chair. 

"You said you wanted to talk 
with me," he said. 

"We were hoping you'd be more 
cooperative." 

"I'll cooperate," Froman told 
him. "But that doesn't mean I have 
to like it." 

Mackey dropped a length of ash 
in the wastcbasket. He didn't look 
at Froman. "All right. If that's the 
way you want it," he said, and 
clamped his lips together. When he 
parted them again, he said, "We're 
not accusing you of anything. We're 
certain you aren't doing anything 
deliberately. Understand that?" 

Froman nodded, but he didn't 
say anything. 

"I want you to tell me about your 
work," the agent said. 

"I suppose you mean my re- 
search," Froman said. "But I have 
several projects in progress. Just 
which one is it?" 

Mackey sat forward abruptly. 
"This moon business," he explained 
curtly. "What you've seen, what you 
think about it, who you've men- 
tioned it to— everything. What got 
you started on it? Especially that." 
He sat back and cocked his ear. 

Froman half-closed his eyes to 
collect his thoughts and assemble 
them in the proper order. "I got 
started on it . . . oh, six or eight 
months ago." He started to rise. "I 
could tell you exactly if I had my 



SEE NO EVIL 



29 



notebook." 

Mackey waved him down. "May- 
be later. Get on with it." 

Stiffly, Froman reseated himself. 
"About once a month, we have a 
visitor's night here. Anybody who 
wants to can come in and have a 
peek through the reflector. We 
show them some of the planets, de- 
pending on which ones are in the 
sky at the time; maybe point out 
something or other, and answer 
any questions we can make sense 
out of. That time, the moon was 
just at first quarter, and we decided 
to show the shadow effect of the 
craters on the moon when the sun's 
just starting to hit them — you 
know, the whole ring all white, and 
the inside black except where the 
sunlight's hitting the central peak." 

"We don't care about the sci- 
ence," Mackey said. 

Froman roused himself, about to 
say something angry. But he put the 
impulse aside. ""We trained the 
telescope on the center of the disk 
— right where the sun was coming 
up and halfway between the poles. 
The seeing was pretty good, and 
we had an eyepiece making for a 
total magnification of 1500 times." 

Mackey interrupted. "What's the 
maximum ?" 

"About two thousand, but it 
takes several miracles of good see- 
ing to make it. Most of the time, 
things would just blur at that 
power. It's the atmosphere." 

"All right. Go on." 

Remembering, Froman smiled. 
"It was a kid — a little girl about 
ten or twelve. She'd probably never 
seen a telescope that big before, and 
she was pretty excited. You could 
tell, that way she stayed at the 



'scope so long without moving. 
Then she looked up and wanted to 
know what the spark was. Well, I 
looked and after a while I saw what 
she meant — it was a spark of light 
inside one of the darkened craters. 
If it had been near the center. I 
would have said it was the central 
peak, but it was more than half- 
way to the western side, and it was 
really too bright to be that. A peak 
just getting the sun would he white, 
but this spark had something else 
— more like a magnesium flare, or 
the sun shining on something like 
a mirror. I didn't know what it 
was." 

"What did you tell the kid?" 

"Oh, some wild guess. I called it 
a guess though — I didn't make any 
bones about not knowing.*' 

"W r hat was the guess?" Mackey 
gave the impression of an almost 
wolflike eagerness to snap at any 
fact. 

"A bit of volcanic glass," Fro- 
man admitted. "Some people claim 
the craters are volcanic, and I hung 
the theory on that. It's a terribly 
weak theory, though, on several 
counts. I didn't believe it myself, 
and I said so." 

"Then it was this spark that got 
you interested," Mackey suggested. 

"That's right. I've been investi- 
gating it ever since." 

Mackey extinguished his ciga- 
rette butt against the rim of the 
wastebasket. When he looked up, 
his eyes were bearing directly on 
Froman. "What else have you 
seen?' 

"Well, the next night I had a 
look, and most of the crater had 
sun on it and the spark was gone. 
But there was a black spot where it 



30 



dean Mclaughlin 



had been." 

"What did it look like?" Mackey 



"Just a spot. It was too small to 
see any shape to it. It may have 
been slightly oval, but I wasn't sure 
then so I can't be now." 

"That's all you've seen? Nothing 
else?" 

"I'm not sure," Froman said. He 
pulled at his right ear lobe. "Once 
when I had very good seeing I 
thought maybe there was really 
more than one spark — that maybe it 
was two, possibly more — quite close 
together. With lower powers, they'd 
tend to merge together." 

"What about the shadow?" 

"I couldn't tell. That could be 
several shadows merging too. I 
haven't had a real chance to find 
out — for one thing, the reflector we 
have here isn't big enough, and the 
seeing isn't good enough to get 
more than a flyspeck. It's like trying 
to read Braille with leather gloves 
on." 

"Anything else?" 

"Yes. One other thing. One night 
I thought I saw part of the spark 
break away from the rest. It moved 
slowly toward the west — lunar west, 
that is. But I couldn't really be sure 
about that. The seeing was good 
that night, but the thing was so 
faint it could have been my im- 
agination. It probably was, because 
it didn't stop with the crater wall — ■ 
just kept on going and finally I 
lost it." 

Mackey was thoughtful. He 
looked at the floor and said nothing 
for a while. 

"Well?" Froman demanded. 

"Trying to decide what to ask 
you next." 



"Why ask anything?" 

Mackey looked almost ready to 
hit him, but he quickly subsided. 
"What about this crater you're 
talking so much about? How much 
do you know?" 

"I investigated it as soon as I 
was certain there really was some- 
thing there. It's located right in the 
center of the moon's disk as we see 
it from earth. It's about ninety miles 
across, circular, and flat as a lake. 
No peak in the center — nothing un- 
usual in that, though. The name's 
Ptolemaeus, if that means anything 
to you. I looked up some photo- 
graphs from Mount Wilson and 
studied them — there wasn't any 
sign of any black spot, or any sparks 
either. Nor any record of anyone 
seeing them before." 

"How do you explain what you 
saw, then?" 

"I don't," Froman shrugged. "I 
saw the spark and the shadow — 
both of them. It's not the first time 
somebody's seen some change on 
the moon's surface ; there are a few 
records, though most of them aren't 
very reliable, and none can really 
be checked completely. But I am 
convinced I'm seeing something. 
Just the fact that it was a kid who 
pointed it out shows I'm not im- 
agining things." 

"You don't have to get mad 
about it," Mackey said. 

Froman shook his head. "I'm not 
mad," he protested. 

"Then don't act like it. What 
about photographs? You've been 
taking some, haven't you?" 

"Just a waste of plates," Froman 
commented. 

"They didn't show anything, 
then." The man was persistent. 



SEE NO EVIL 



31 



"I have a couple of plates which 
might show something, but it's hard 
to be sure. It doesn't take much to 
fudge a plate — a change in the see- 
ing, errors in tracking, the grain 
and sensitivity of the plate. Every- 
thing's against getting anything, 
really." 

"You can see things, but you 
can't photo them. That right?" 

"That's about it. If we had a big 
enough telescope here, I might be 
able to do something. But — " he 
shrugged — "we don't." 

Mackey muttered something not 
particularly sympathetic. "And just 
what do you think about these 
things you've been seeing — how 
would you explain them?" 

"I don't know what it is," Fro- 
man confessed. He wondered what 
the man was driving at. Why all 
the questions? Why should Military 
Security be so interested? "All I 
know," he went on, "is that it's 
something new. It wasn't there un- 
til quite recently. It's high enough 
and large enough to cast a shadow 
I can see with the 37-inch, and it 
reflects sunlight like a mirror "when 
the angle is right. How it got there, 
or just what it is, I wouldn't know 
— but it's there." 



MACKEY PLACED his fin- 
gertips together and glanced 
upward at the cracked ceiling. 
His eyes had heavy lids. "Have you 
told anyone about this yet?" He 
sounded studiedly casual. 

"Of course," Froman told him, 
surprised. Why should he keep it a 
secret? "Jameson was with me the 
first night, and he saw the spark 
too — and so did most of the visitors. 



At least they said they did. Half of 
them would see a little man with a 
green beard if you told them he 
was there." 

"Anyone else? 1 * 

Froman's eyebrows inched to- 
ward one another. What was this 
man after? "I notified Harvard," 
he went on. He didn't like being 
prodded this way. "But nothing 
came of it. Don't ask me why. 
Maybe they decided it wasn't im- 
portant. And I've mentioned it to 
most of the men in the department. 
And last week I wrote to a man I 
know out in California— at Mount 
Wilson — and asked him to take a 
look. I haven't heard anything 
from him yet." 

"Anyone else?" Mackey asked 
again, after a silence. 

"No. I think that's all." 

Mackey regarded the ceiling 
again, as if there was something 
important written there. "Now 
suppose you just abandoned the 
project — just suppose. What would 
they think?" 

Froman tugged at his lower Up. 
"Nothing much, I guess. They 
know we haven't a .big enough tele- 
scope for this kind of work. I've 
seen about all I could hope to see. 
In fact, they might think it was 
odd if I kept up." He stopped ab- 
ruptly, and his tone became hard. 
"Are you asking me to drop the 
project?" 

"Isn't that obvious?" Mackey 
said. He regarded his fingernails. 

Froman brought his hand down 
flat on the tabic beside him as he 
pushed himself up out of his chair. 
The jar caused a stack of papers to 
collapse sidewise, and the paper- 
weight rolled noisily over the 



32 



dean Mclaughlin 



stained and varnished wood. It was 
a stone polished to a glistening fin- 
ish — a stone with fossilized plants 
in it. 

"Why?" he demanded. He stood, 
one hand gripping the table edge. 

"Because we want you to," 
Mackey said, as if that was the 
most authoritative reason in the 
world. "Because we tell you to. And 
we don't want you telling anyone 
about what you already know ; 
what you've seen and my coming 
here, both. This spark and shadow. 
They don't exist. Understand me? 
They don't exist." 

"They do," Froman insisted. "I 
saw them, and so did Jameson." 

"Military Security says they don't 
exist," Mackey told him with aus- 
tere finality. "Now do you under- 
stand?" 

*'I understand that you're butting 
into something that's none of your 
affair," Froman told him. He could 
be just as forceful as the agent. The 
insides of his fists were beginning 
to sweat, and his face was burning. 
"I think this is still a free country," 
he said. "The government has no 
business telling people what they 
can and can't see, and there are no 
lies in astronomy — you can prove 
the truth just by looking through a 
telescope. Anybody can look 
through a telescope. It was a kid 
who saw the thing first, not me." 

The agent abandoned his tough- 
ness. "Mr. Froman," he said, trying 
to calm him. "This is a matter of 
war and peace. What you've seen 
has got to be kept secret." 

"You can't keep secrets in as- 
tronomy," Froman snapped. "All 
you have to do is look up and see 
what's there. You can't keep that 



a secret. It's the same moon over 
Russia, don't forget." 

Cooling slightly, he continued. 
"I can see some point in keeping 
secrets in physics, and chemistry — 
even biology. They're all concerned 
with things here on Earth, and you 
people can use them for weapons. 
But astronomy is different. What 
effect could anything in astronomy 
have on war and peace? What are 
you? An astrologer?" 

"I'm a security agent, and I can't 
answer your questions. The less you 
know, the better. You can't repeat 
what you don't know. We want you 
to keep this moon business secret 
Understand? All of it. You never 
saw that spark, or the shadow — or 
me. That's all you have to know. 
Understand?" 

"They have telescopes in Russia, 
and they can look at the moon too. 
You can't keep anything a secret m 
astronomy. Anyone can take a 
look. You're being silly." 

"They have atoms in Russia, 
too," Mackey pointed out. "And 
just because they can take a look at 
the moon if they want doesn't mean 
we have to tell them where to look 
and what to see. Sit down and 
think a while. It's not as silly as 
you think. And it if a matter of war 
and peace; that's why you've got 
to keep your mouth shut." 

"Why should I? I don't like be- 
ing told to do something without 
being told the reasons. Just because 
it's the government giving the or- 
ders doesn't make them any more 
reasonable. I want to know why." 

"I've already told you. This is 
no game." 

"And just what on the moon," 
Froman asked acidly, "could be as 



SEE NO EVIL 



33 



important as all that?" 

Mackey seemed about to say 
something out of irritation. But he 
caught himself long before he 
found the words. He was leaning 
back in the chair, his chin almost 
touching his chest, his eyes like twin 
drills boring into Froman. 

In that moment, things fell into 
place in From an' s mind. Every- 
thing did make sense. Very star- 
tling sense. 



LIKE MOST everyone else, 
he'd seen the abundant ar- 
ticles in newspapers and magazines 
and Sunday supplements, speculat- 
ing on the immense strategic value 
of a military base on the moon — a 
base which could bombard any 
place on Earth, and yet, because of 
the Earth's more powerful gravita- 
tion, be nearly invulnerable to an 
Earth-staged attack. As an astron- 
omer, he had taken perhaps a some- 
what more than ordinary interest 
in the speculations. But he had 
never thought ... It had never oc- 
curred to him that . . . 

Froman's glance drifted toward 
the painting on the wall. The space- 
ship, a bit of sunlight high up on 
its tapering prow: a spark. And the 
lunar mountains in the background. 
It was almost like a photograph, it 
seemed so real. For an instant, he 
imagined that the spacesuited fig- 
ures actually moved; that the pic- 
ture was no picture, but real. 

Of course it was a painting — 
there was even a signature down in 
the lower right hand corner — 
but . . . 

"How much . . ." he asked slow- 
ly, "how much have they been do- 



ing in New Mexico that we haven't 
been told about?" 

The security agent let his breath 
out slowly. "We were afraid you'd 
figure it out," he said, "just from 
my coming here. But we couldn't 
take the chance of letting you tell 
anybody about what you'd seen. 
They might catch on faster." 

"I don't jump to conclusions," 
Froman told him. 

"You're not to tell anybody about 
this. That base has to be kept se- 
cret. Understand?" 

Froman frowned. "I don't see 
why." 

"That's the policy we've decided 
on. It's got to be kept secret." 
Mackey sat forward, his hand 
grasping the table edge between 
thumb and palm. His other hand 
pointed. "We're warning you, Mr. 
Froman. If you let anything out 
and we catch you, there are plenty 
of laws we could get you with." 

"I didn't ask you to come here," 
Froman said with offense. He dis- 
liked being threatened. "I didn't 
ask to be told anything. I'd never 
have guessed if you hadn't come 
here. I've learned more from you 
than from all eight months with 
the telescope. If you hadn't come, 
I'd have just shrugged my shoulders 
and forgotten it. It's not the first 
time >omcbody's seen something on 
the moon he couldn't understand — 
we're still not even certain what 
caused the craters. Even if I'd had 
a report of it published, nobody 
would have noticed. But you had 
to come and answer all the ques- 
tions I couldn't find the answers to. 
That doesn't speak so well for your 
security methods." 

"Never mind that. The point is, 



34 



dean Mclaughlin 



you're going to keep your mouth 
shut." 

"Not until I have a good reason," 
Roman answered stubbornly. With- 
out his realizing it, his hand closed 
around the polished fossil-stone 
paperweight. "You don't seem to 
grasp the fact that science and se- 
crecy don't fit together too well. 
We're working for truth and knowl- 
edge. Secrecy is just the opposite. 
And we scientists aren't accustomed 
to keeping secrets from one an- 
other." He jerked a hand toward a 
stack of foreign language journals. 
"It's you security hounds who've 
tried to change that." 

"This isn't science," Mackey an- 
swered. "It's a military affair, and 
it's got to be kept secret. Science 
hasn't anything to do with it." 

"You still haven't given any rea- 
sons. I'm not a puppet for you to 
order around. If I'm supposed to do 
something, I've got to know why — 
and then I'll decide for myself 
whether I'll do it or not.'* 

"We had hoped you'd be more 
cooperative." Mackey was trying to 
be persuasive now, but lacked the 
proper tact. 

"Cooperation works both ways," 
Froman reminded him. "If you'll 
cooperate with me, then perhaps 
I'll cooperate with you. But not 
until then." 

"The trouble with you astrono- 
mers is that you look at the sky too 
much. There're still such things as 
governments around, and nations 
— especially one called Russia. And 
there's something else called espi- 
onage laws. If you don't cooperate, 
you can't say we didn't warn you." 

"You're a bit late, aren't you? 
What about Harvard, and the man 



at Mount Wilson?" 

"Forget about them. They're 
taken care of. Long ago. How do 
you think we found out about you? 
What we want to know now is if 
you'll cooperate." 

"I haven't much choice, have I?" 
Froman said bitterly. 

"Listen. We'd rather keep it a 
secret than jail you for talking. Get 
that? And we don't know whether 
we can trust you or not. There. I'm 
putting it to you straight. What's 
your answer?" 

Froman leaned his weight against 
the table. He thought a moment. 
"Just how important is this? I 
mean, do you have any good reason 
for keeping this base a secret? Or 
are you people just in love with 
the idea of secrecy for its own 
sake?" 

"I told you. It's war and peace." 

"Maybe I'm just dense or tired 
or something," Froman said in 
mock apology. "But that still 
doesn't mean anything to me. I 
should think that if the Kremlin 
found out about the base, we'd 
have a much easier time of things. 
A moon base is too much of a 
strategic advantage. Why keep it a 
secret?" 

Mackey snorted disgustedly. 
"You'd better stick to star gazing. 
You may know something about 
that. Listen. If they found out about 
it, they'd take a gamble. They'd 
know they were beaten anyway — 
their only chance would be if the 
base weren't ready yet. They'd 
take a chance on it. The day after 
the Kremlin hears we've got a base 
on the moon will be the day the 
next war starts." 

"Is it ready?" 



SEE NO EVIL 



35 



"We could use it if we had to," 
Mackey said. "But we'd rather not 
for a while yet. We'd like to have 
it self-sufficient — mining its own 
ores and making its own machinery 
and bombs, generating its own 
power, and growing all its own 
food. So it could keep on fighting 
even if it was cut off. Right now, 
it has to be supplied from our New 
Mexico base. Don't think that base 
couldn't be wrecked if the Com- 
mies wanted to bad enough." 

He caught his breath suddenly. 
"Maybe I'm telling you too much," 
he hurried on. "But you see why 
it's got to be kept quiet. You don't 
want to be responsible for another 
war, do you?" 

"No," Froman said tonelessly. 
He studied the outlines of the fos- 
sils in the paperweight he held. His 
thumb rubbed at the smooth sur- 
face. He tilted the stone in the light. 

Mackey watched him. Finally, 
he said, "You were in the Navy in 
the last war, weren't you." 

"You seem to know," Froman 
said. He wasn't at all interested. 

"And now you're in the Reserve, 
I suppose." 

"You practically have to be, if 
you were an officer. Why?" 

"Just checking. We'd feel a lot 
better if we had you under security 
regulations." 

"What do ypu mean by that?" 

Mackey shrugged. "Nothing. Just 
thinking out loud. Forget it." He 
stood up and pulled on his coat. 
"I'll be leaving now. It's pretty 
late." He favored the quartz paper- 
weight with a quick glance. Under 



the lights, it was almost diamond- 
like. He turned from it and moved 
past Froman, who hadn't moved, 
the fossil-stone still cradled in un- 
conscious hands. 

At the door, Mackey paused, 
turned back. Froman still hadn't 
moved. 

"Remember. Don't tell anyone. 
Understand ?" 



TWO WEEKS later, Lieuten- 
ant Charles Froman, U.S.N.R., 
was informed of his recall to active 
service. 

They wanted to make the moon 
base self-sufficient. That meant 
mining ores on the moon. The ores 
had to be located first. Besides be- 
ing an astronomer, Charles Fro- 
man was a geologist, and he knew 
his minerals. 

Once the novelty wore off 3 it was 
just prolonged monotony. There 
wasn't much to occupy his time ex- 
cept his work — wandering over 
sun-bleached, dessicated, airless 
terrain in an outfit which combined 
the dubious virtues of a Turkish 
bath and a claustrophobe's private 
brand of hell. And, except for 
that, nothing. Nothing but collect- 
ing pay (extra for special duty) he 
couldn't spend and counting up the 
furlough time he had due him but 
couldn't take because there was no- 
where to go. 

And they didn't care if he talked 
to anyone about the moon base or 
not. The only people he could tell 
already knew. They were there, 
weren't they? 



The women had made up their minds, and noth- 
ing — repeat, nothing — could change them. But 
something had to give . . . 



WHERE THERE'S HOPE 



By J 



erome 



Bixby 



Illustrated by Kelly Frcas 



IF YOU called me here to tell 
me to have a child," Mary 
Pornsen said, "you can just forget 
about it. We girls have made up 
our minds." 

Hugh Farrel, Chief Medical 
Officer of the Exodus VII, sighed 
and leaned back in his chair. He 
looked at Mary's husband. "And 
you, Ralph," he said. "How do you 
feel?" 

Ralph Pornsen looked at Mary 
uncomfortably, started to speak 
and then hesitated. 

Hugh Farrel sighed again and 
closed his eyes. It was that way 
with all the boys. The wives had 
the whip hand. If the husbands put 
up an argument, they'd simply get 
turned down flat; no sex at all, 
children or otherwise. The threat, 
Farrel thought wryly, made the 
boys softer than watered putty. His 
own wife, Alice, was one of the 
ringleaders of the "no babies'* 
movement, and since he had open- 
ly declared warfare on the idea, she 



37 



wouldn't even let him kiss her 
good-night. (For fear of losing her 
determination, Farrel liked to 
think.) 

He opened his eyes again to look 
past the Pornsens, out of the curv- 
ing port of his office-lab in the Ex- 
odus VII's flank, at the scene out- 
side the ship. 

At the edge of the clearing he 
could see Danny Stern and his 
crew, tiny beneath the cavernous 
sunbeam-shot overhang of giant 
leaves. Danny was standing up at 
the controls of the 'dozer, waving 
his arms. His crew was struggling 
to get a log set so he could shove 
it into place with the 'dozer. They 
were repairing a break in the barri- 
cade — the place where one of New 
Earth's giant saurians had come 
stamping and whistling through 
last night to kill three colonists be- 
fore it could be blasted out of exist- 
ence. 

It was difficult. Damned difficult. 
A brand-new world here, all ready 



38 



JEROME BIXBY 



to receive the refugees from dying 
Earth. Or rather, all ready to be 
made readv, which was the task 
ahead of the Exodus VII's person- 
nel. 

An Earth-like world. Green, 
warm, fertile— and crawling, leap- 
ing, hooting and snarling with fe- 
rocious beasts of every variety. Par- 
rel could certainly see the women's 
point in banding together and re- 
fusing to produce children. Some- 
thing inside a woman keeps her 
from wanting to bring life into 
peril — at least, when the peril 
seems temporary, and security is 
both remembered and anticipated. 

Pornsen said, "I guess I feel just 
about like Mary does. I — I don't 
see any reason for having a kid un- 
til we get this place ironed out and 
safe to live in." 

"That's going to take time, 
Ralph." Farrel clasped his hands in 
front of him and delivered the 
speech he had delivered so often in 
the past few weeks. "Ten or twelve 
years before we really get set up 
here. We've got to build from the 
ground up, you know. We'll have 
to find and mine our metals. Build 
our machines to build shops to 
build more machines. There'll be 
resources that we won't find, and 
we'll have to learn what this planet 
has to offer in their stead. Coloniz- 
ing New Earth isn't simply a mat- 
ter of landing and throwing togeth- 
er a shining city. I only wish it 
were. 

"Six weeks ago we landed. We 
haven't yet dared to venture more 
than a mile from this spot. We've 
cut down trees and built the barri- 
cade and our houses. After protect- 
ing ourselves we have to eat. We've 



planted gardens. We've produced 
test-tube calves and piglets. The 
calves are doing fine, but the pig- 
lets are dying one by one. We've 
got to find out why. 

"It's going to be a long, long 
time before we have even a mini- 
mum of security, much less luxury. 
Longer than you think. . . So 
much longer that waiting until the 
security arrives before having chil- 
dren is out of the question. There 
are critters out there — " he nodded 
toward the port and the busy clear- 
ing beyond — "that we haven't 
been able to kill. We've thrown ev- 
erything we have at them, and 
they come back for more. We'll 
have to find out what will kill them 
— how they differ from those we 
are able to kill. We are six hundred 
people and a spaceship. Ralph. We 
have techniques. That's all. Every- 
thing else we've got to dig up out 
of this planet. We'll need people, 
Mary; we'll need the children. 
We're counting on them. They're 
vital to the plans we've made." 

Mary Pornsen said, "Damn the 
plans. I won't have one. Not now. 
You've just done a nice job of de- 
scribing all my reasons. And all the 
other girls feel the same way." 



SHE LOOKED out the window 
at the 'dozer and crew. Danny 
Stern was still waving his arms; the 
log was almost in place. "George 
and May Wright were killed last 
night. So was Farclli. If George 
and May had had a child, the mom 
ster would have trampled it too — 
it went right through their cabin 
like cardboard. It isn't fair to bring 
a baby into—" 



WHERE THERE'S HOPE 



39 



Farrel said, "Fair, Mary? Maybe 
it isn't fair not to have one. Not to 
bring it into being and give it a 
chance. Life's always a gamble — " 

"/( doesn't exist," Mary said. 
She smiled. "Don't try circumlocu- 
tion on me, Doc. I'm not religious. 
I don't believe that spermatazoa 
and an ovum, if not allowed to 
cuddle up together, add up to mur- 
der." 

"That isn't what I meant — " 

"You were getting around to it 
— which means you've run out of 
good arguments." 

"No. I've a few left." Farrel 
looked at the two stubborn faces: 
Mary's, pleasant and pretty, but set 
as steel; Ralph's, uncomfortable, 
thoughtful, but mirroring his defi- 
nite willingness to follow his wife's 
lead. 

Farrel cleared his throat. "You 
know how important it is that this 
colony be established? You know 
that, don't you? In twenty years or 
so the ships will start arriving. 
Hundreds of them. Because we 
sent a message back to Earth say- 
ing we'd found a habitable planet. 
Thousands of people from Earth, 
coming here to the new world 
we're supposed to get busy and 
carve out for them. We were se- 
lected for that task — first of judg- 
ing the right planet, then of work- 
ing it over. Engineers, chemists, 
agronomists, all of us — we're the 
task force. We've got to do the job. 
We've got to test; plant, breed, re- 
balance, create. There'll be a lot of 
trial and error. We've got to work 
out a way of life, so the thousands 
who will follow can be introduced 
safely and painlessly into the — 
well, into the organism. And we'll 



need new blood for the jobs ahead. 
We'll need young people — " 

Mary said, "A few years one way 
or the other won't matter much, 
Doc. Five or six years from now 
this place will be a lot safer. Then 
we women will start producing. But 
not now." 

"It won't work that way," Farrel 
said. "We're none of us kids any 
longer. I'm fifty-five. Ralph, you're 
forty-three. I realize that I must be 
getting old to think of you as 
young. Mary, you're thirty-seven. 
We took a long time getting here. 
Fourteen years. We left an Earth 
that's dying of radioactive poison- 
ing, and we all got a mild dose of 
that. The radiation we absorbed in 
space, little as it was, didn't help 
any. And that sun up there — " 
again he nodded at the port — 
"isn't any help either. Periodically 
it throws off some pretty damned 
funny stuff. 

"Frankly, we're worried. We 
don't know whether or not we can 
have children. Or normal children. 
We've got to find out. If our genes 
have been bollixed up, we've got 
to find out why and how and get 
to work on it immediately. It may 
be unpleasant. It may be heart- 
breaking. But those who will come 
here in twenty years will have ab- 
sorbed much more of Earth's ra- 
dioactivity than we did, and an 
equal amount of the space stuff, 
and this sun will be waiting for 
them. . . . We'll have to know what * 
we can do for them." 

"I'm not a walking laboratory, 
Doc," Mar)' said. 

"I'm afraid you are, Mary. All 
of you are." 



40 



JEROME BIXBY 



Mary set her Hps and stared out 
the port. 

"It's got to be done, Mary." 

She didn't answer. 

"It's going to be done." 

"Choose someone else," she said. 

"That's what they all say." 

She said, "I guess this is one 
thing you doctors and psychologists 
didn't figure on, Doc." 

"Not at first," Farrel said. "But 
we've given it some thought." 

MacGuire had installed the but- 
ton convenient to FarrePs right 
hand, just below die level of the 
desk-top. Farrel pressed it. Ralph 
and Mary Pornsen slumped in 
their chairs. The door opened, and 
Doctor John J. MacGuire and Ted 
Harris, the Exodus VII's chief psy- 
chologist, came in. 



WHEN it was over, and the aft- 
er-play had been allowed to 
run its course, Farrel told the 
Pornsens to go into the next room 
and shower They came back soon, 
looking refreshed. Farrel ordered 
them to get back into their clothes. 
Under the power of the hypnotic 
drug which their chairs had in- 
jected into them at the touch of 
the button, they did so. Then he 
told them to sit down in the chairs 
again. 

MacGuire and Harris had gath- 
ered up their equipment, piling it 
on top of the operating table. 

MacGuire smiled. "I'll bet that's 
the best-monitored, most hygienic 
sex act ever committed. I think 
I've about got the space radiations 
effect licked." 

Farrel nodded. "If anything goes 
wrong, it certainly won't be our 



fault. But let's face it — the chances 
are a thousand to one that some- 
thing will go wrong. We'll just 
have to wait. And work." He 
looked at the Pornsens. "They're 
very much in love, aren't they? 
And she was receptive to the sug- 
gestion—beneath it all, she was 
burning to have a child, just like 
the others." 

MacGuire wheeled out the oper- 
ating table, with its load of serums, 
pressure-hypos and jury-rigged 
thingamabobs which he was testing 
on alternate couples. Ted Harris 
stopped at the door a moment. He 
said, "I think the suggestions I 
planted will turn the trick when 
they find out she's pregnant. 
They'll come through okay — won't 
even be too angry." 

Farrel sighed. They'd been over 
it in detail several times, of course, 
but apparently Harris needed the 
reassurance as much as he did. He 
said: "Sure. Now scram so I ran 
go back into my act." 

Harris closed the door. Farrel 
sat down at his desk and studied 
the pair before him. They looked 
back contentedly, holding hands, 
their eyes dull. 

Farrel said, "How do you feel?" 

Ralph Pornsen said, "I feel fine." 

Mary Pornsen said, "Oh, I feel 
wonderful!" 

Deliberately Farrel pressed an- 
other button below his desk-top. 

The dull eyes cleared instantly. 

"Oh, you've given it some 
thought. Doc?" Mary said sweetly. 
"And what have you decided?" 

"You'll see," Farrel said. "Even- 
tually." 

He rose. "That's all for now, 
kids. I'd like to see you again in 



WHERE THERE'S HOPE 



41 



one month — for a routine check- 
up." 

Mary nodded and got up. "You'll 
still have to wait, Doc. Why not 
admit you're licked?" 

Ralph got up too, and looked 
puzzled. 

"Wow," he said. "I'm tired." 

"Perhaps just coming here," Far- 
rcl said, "discharged some of the 
tension you've been carrying 
around." 

The Pornsens left. 

Farrel brought out some papers 
from his desk and studied them. 
Then, from the file drawer, he se- 
lected the record of Hugh and 
Alice Farrel. Alice would be at the 
perfect time of her menstrual cycle 
tomorrow. . . . 

Farrel flipped his communicator. 

"MacGuire," he said. "Tomor- 
row it's me." 

MacGuire chuckled. Farrel could 
have kicked him. He put his chin 
in his hands and stared out the 
port. Danny Stern had the log in 
place in the barricade. The bull- 
dozer was moving on to a new task. 
His momentary doubt stilled, Far- 
rel went back to work. 



TWENTY-ONE years later, when 
the ships from Earth began ar- 
riving, the log had been replaced 
by a stone monument erected to 
the memory of the Exodus VII, 
which had been cut apart for its 
valuable steel. Around the monu- 
ment was a park, and on three 
sides of the park was a shining 
town — not really large enough to 
be called a ci ty — of plastic and 
stone, for New Earth had no iron 
ore, only zinc and a little copper. 
This was often cause for regret. 

Still it was a pretty good world. 
The monster problem had been 
licked by high-voltage cannon. Now 
in their third generation since the 
landing, the monsters kept their 
distance. And things grew — things 
good to eat. 

And even without steel, the 
graceful, smoothly - functioning 
town looked impressive — quite a 
thing to have been built by a hand- 
ful of beings with two arms and 
two legs each. 

It hadn't been, entirely. But no- 
body thought much about that any 
more. Even the newcomers got 
used to it. Things change. 



BACK ISSUES — There are still a few copies left of all issues of 
IF, but they're going fast! This may be your last chance to com- 
plete your collection at a reasonable cost, since when these are 
sold no more will be available from the publisher. Send 35c for 
each issue you've missed to the Circulation Dept., Quinn Pub- 
lishing Co., Kingston, New York. 



The world of the new race was peaceful, comfortable, lovely 
— and completely static. Only Eric knew the haunting lone- 
liness that had carried the old race to the stars, and he couldn't 
communicate it, even if he had dared to! 



By Mari Wolf 



Illustrated by Rudolph Falais 



THE STARSHIP waited. Cylin- 
drical walls enclosed it, and a trans- 
parent plastic dome held it back 
from the sky and the stars. It 
waited, while night changed to day 
and back again, while the seasons 
merged one into another, and the 
years, and the centuries. It towered 
as gleaming and as uncorroded as 
it had when it was first built, long 
ago, when men had bustled about 
it and in it, their shouting and their 
laughter and the sound of their 
tools ringing against the metallic 
plates. 

Now few men ever came to it. 
And those who did come merely 
looked with quiet faces for a few 
minutes, and then went away again. 

The generations kaleidoscoped 
by. The Star ship waited. 



ERIC MET the other children 
when he was four years old. 
They were out in the country, and 
he'd slipped away from his parents 
and started wading along the edge 
of a tiny stream, kicking at the 
water spiders. 

His feet were soaked, and his 
knees were streaked with mud 
where he'd knelt down to play. His 
father wouldn't like it later, but 
right now it didn't matter. It was 
fun to be off by himself, splashing 
along the stream, feeling the sun hot 
on his back and the water icy 
against his feet. 

A water spider scooted past him, 
heading for the tangled moss along 
the bank. He bent down, scooped 
his hand through the water to 
catch it. For a moment he had it, 



43 



44 



MARI WOLF 



then it slipped over his fingers and 
darted away, out of his reach. 

As he stood up, disappointed, he 
saw them: two boys and a girl, not 
much older than he. They were 
standing at the edge of the trees, 
watching him. 

He'd seen children before, but 
he'd never met any of them. His 
parents kept him away from them — 
and from all strangers. He stood 
still, watching them, Vaiting for 
them to say something. He felt ex- 
cited and uncomfortable at the 
same time. 

They didn't say anything. They 
just watched him, very intently. 

He felt even more uncomfortable. 

The bigger boy laughed. He 
pointed at Eric and laughed again 
and looked over at his companions. 
They shook their heads. 

Eric waded up out of the water. 
He didn't know whether to go over 
to them or run away, back to his 
mother. He didn't understand the 
way they were looking at him. 

"Hello," he said. 

The big boy laughed again. 
"See?" he said, pointing at Eric. 
"He can't." 

"Can't what?" Eric said. 

The three looked at him, not say- 
ing anything. Then they all burst 
out laughing. They pointed at him, 
jumped up and down and clapped 
their hands together. 

"What's funny?" Eric said, back- 
ing away from them, wishing his 
mother would come, and yet afraid 
to turn around and run. 

"You," the girl said. "You're fun- 
ny. Funny, funny, funny! You're 
stu-pid." 

The others took it up. "Stu-pid, 
stu-pid. You can't talk to us, you're 



too stu-pid . . ." 

They skipped down the bank to- 
ward him, laughing and calling. 
They jumped up and down and 
pointed at him, crowded closer and 
closer. 

"Silly, silly. Can't talk. Silly, silly. 
Can't talk . . ." 

Eric backed away from them. He 
tried to run, but he couldn't. His 
knees shook too much. He could 
hardly move his legs at all. He be- 
gan to cry. 

They crowded still closer around 
him. "Stu-pid." Their laughter was 
terrible. He couldn't get away from 
them. He cried louder. 

"Eric!" His mother's voice. He 
twisted around, saw her coming, 
running toward him along the 
bank. 

"Mama!" He could move again. 
He stumbled toward her. 

"He wants his mama," the big 
boy said. "Funny baby." 

His mother was looking past him, 
at the other children. They stopped 
laughing abruptly. They looked 
back at her for a moment, scuffing 
their feet in the dirt and not say- 
ing anything. Suddenly the big boy 
turned and ran, up over the bank 
and out of sight. The other boy fol- 
lowed him. 

The girl started to run, and then 
she looked at Eric's mother again 
and stopped. She looked back at 
Eric. "I'm sorry," she said sulkily, 
and then she turned and fled after 
the others. 

Eric's mother picked him up. 
"It's all right," she said. "Mother's 
here. It's all right." 

He clung to her, clutching her 
convulsively, his whole body shak- 
ing. "Why, Mama? Why?" 



HOMO INFERIOR 



45 



"You're all right, dear." 

She was warm and her arms were 
tight around him. lie was home 
again, and safe. He relaxed, slowly. 

"Don't leave me, Mama." 

"I won't, dear." 

She crooned to him, softly, and 
be relaxed still more. His head 
drooped on her shoulder and after 
a while he fell asleep. 

But it wasn't the same as it had 
been. It wouldn't ever be quite the 
same again. He knew he was dif- 
ferent now. 



against his chest. "I know . . ." 

Eric whimpered again, and his 
hands clenched into fists and came 
up to protect his face. 

Instinctively Gwin reached out to 
him, and then she drew back. She 
couldn't reach his emotions. There 
was no perception. There was no 
way she could enter his dreams and 
rearrange them and comfort him. 

"Poor devil," his father said 
again. "He's got his whole life to 
be lonely in." 



THAT NIGHT Eric lay asleep. 
He was curled on his side, one 
chubby hand under his cheek, the 
other still holding his favorite ani- 
mal, the wooly lamb his mother had 
given him for his birthday. He 
stirred in his sleep, threshing rest- 
lessly, and whimpered. 

His mothers face lifted mutely 
to her husband's. 

"Myron, the things those children 
said. It must have been terrible for 
him. I'm glad at least that he 
couldn't perceive what they were 
thinking." 

Myron sighed. He put his arm 
about her shoulders and drew her 
close against him. "Don't torture 
yourself, Gwin. You can't make it 
easier for him. There's no way." 

"But we'll have to tell him some- 
thing." 

He stroked her hatr. The four 
years of their shared sorrow lay 
heavily between them as he looked 
down over her head at his son. 

"Poor devil. Let him keep his 
childhood while he can, Gwin. He'll 
know he's all alone soon enough." 

She nodded, burying her face 



THE SUMMER passed, and an- 
other winter and another sum- 
mer. Eric spent more and more 
rime by himself. He liked to sit on 
the glassed-in sunporch, bouncing 
his ball up and down and talking 
to it, aloud, pretending that it an- 
swered him back. He liked to lie 
on his stomach close to the wall 
and look out at the garden with its 
riotous mass of flowers and the in- 
sects that flew among them. Some 
flew quickly, their wings moving so 
fast that they were just blurs. 
Others flew slowly, swooping on 
outspread bright-colored wings 
from petal to petal. He liked these 
slow-flying ones the best. He could 
wiggle his shoulder blades in time 
with their wings and pretend that 
he was flying too. 

Sometimes other children came 
by on the outside of the wall. He 
could look out at them without 
worrying, because they couldn't see 
him. The wall wasn't transparent 
from the outside. He liked it when 
three or four of them came by to- 
gether, laughing and chasing each 
other through the garden. Usually, 
though, they didn't stay long. After 



46 

they had played a few minutes his 
father or his mother went out and 
looked at them, and then they went 
away. 

Eric Was playing Tsy himself when 
the old man came out to the sun- 
porch doorway and stood there, say- 
ing nothing, making no effort to 
interrupt or to speak. He was so 
quiet that after a while Eric almost 
didn't mind his being there. 

The old man turned back to 
Myron and Gwin. 

"Of course the boy can learn. 
He's not stupid." 

Eric bounced the ball, flung it 
against the transparent glass, 
caught it, bounced it again. 

"But how, Walden?" Gwin shook 
her head. "You oiler to teach him, 
but—" 

Walden smiled. "Remember 
these?" 

. . . Walden's study. The familiar 
curtains drawn aside, and the 
shelves behind them. The rows of 
bright-backed, box-like objects, 
most of them old and spotted, quite 
unhygienic . . . 

Gwin shook her head at the per- 
ception, but Myron nodded. 

"Books, I didn't know there were 
any outside the museums." 

Walden smiled again. "Only 
mine. Books are fascinating things. 
All the knowledge of a race, 
gathered together on a few 
shelves . . ." 

"Knowledge?" Myron shrugged. 
"Imagine storing knowledge in 
those — boxes. What are they? 
What's in them? Just words . . ." 

The books faded as Walden 
sighed. "You'd be surprised what 
the old race did, with just those — 
boxes." 



MARI WOLF 

He looked across at Eric, who was 
now bouncing his ball and counting, 
out loud, up to three, and then go- 
ing back and starting again. 

"The boy can learn what's in 
those books. Just as if he'd gone to 
school back in the old times." 

Myron and Gwin looked doubt- 
fully at each other, and then over 
at the corner where Eric played un- 
heeding. Perhaps Walden could 
help. Perhaps . . . 

"Eric," Gwin said aloud, 

"Yes, mother?" 

"We've decided you're going to 
go to school, the way you want to. 
Mr. Walden here is going to be 
your teacher. Isn't that nice?" 

Eric looked at her and then at 
the old man. Strangers didn't often 
come out on the sunporch. Stran- 
gers usually left him alone. 

He bounced the ball again with- 
out answering. 

"Say something,V Eric," his 
mother commanded. 

Eric looked back at Walden. "He 
can't teach me to be like other chil- 
dren, can he?" 

"No," Walden said. "I can't." 

"Then I don't want to go to 
school." Eric threw the ball across 
the room as hard as he could. 

"But there once were other peo- 
ple like you*' Walden said. "Lots 
of them. And you can learn about 
them, if you want to." 

"Other people like me? Where?" 

Myron and Gwin looked help- 
lessly at each other and at the old 
man. Gwin began to cry and Myron 
cursed softly, on the perception 
level so that Eric wouldn't hear 
them. 

But Walden's face was gentle and 
understanding as he answered, so 



HOMO INFERIOR 



47 



understanding that Eric couldn't 
help wanting desperately to believe 
him. 

"Everyone was like you once," 
Walden said. "A long time ago." 



IT WAS a new life for Eric. Every 
day he would go over to Wal- 
den's and the two of them would 
pull back the curtains in the study 
and Walden would lift down some 
of the books. It was as if Walden 
was giving him the past, all of it, 
as fast as he could grasp it. 

"Fm really like the old race, 
Walden?" 

"Yes, Eric. You'll see just how 
much like them . . ." 

Identity. Here in the past, in the 
books he was learning to read, in 
the pictures, the pages and pages 
of scenes and portraits. Strange 
scenes, far removed from the gar- 
dens and the quiet houses and the 
wordless smile of friend to friend. 

Great buildings and small. The 
Parthenon in the moonlight, not 
too many pages beyond the cave, 
with its smoky fire and first crude 
wall drawings. Cities bright with a 
million neon lights, and still later, 
caves again — the underground sta- 
tions of the Moon colonies. All un- 
real, and yet — 

They were his people, these men 
in the pictures. Strange men, vio- 
lent men: the barbarian trampling 
his enemy to death beneath his 
horse's hooves, the knight in armor 
marching to the Crusade, the space- 
man. And the quieter men: the 
farmer, the artisan, the poet — they 
too were his people, and far easier 
to understand than the others. 

The skill of reading mastered, 



and the long, sweeping vistas of the 
past. Their histories. Their wars. 
"Why did they fight, Walden?" 
And Walden's sigh. "I don't know, 
Eric, but they did." 

So much to learn. So much to 
understand. Their art and music 
and literature and religion. Patterns 
of life that ebbed and flowed and 
ebbed again, but never in quite the 
same way. "Why did they change 
so much, Walden?" And the an- 
swer, "You probably know that bet- 
ter than I, Eric . . . 

Perhaps he did. For he went on 
to the books that Walden.ignored. 
Their mathematics, their science. 
The apple's fall, and the orbits of 
planets. The sudden spiral of anal- 
ysis, theory, technology. The ma- 
chines — steamships, airplanes, 
spaceships . . . 

And the searching loneliness that 
carried the old race from the caves 
of Earth to the stars. The searching, 
common to the violent man and the 
quiet man, to the doer and the 
dreaming poet. 

Why do we hunger, who own the 
Moon and trample the shift- 
ing dust of Mars? 

Why aren't we content with the 
worlds we've won? Why don't 
we rest, with the system ours? 

We have cast off the planets like 
outgrown toys, and now we 
want the stars . . . 

"Have you ever been to the stars, 
Walden?" 

Walden stared at him. Then he 
laughed. "Of course not, Eric. No- 
body goes there now. None of our 
race has ever gone. Why should 
we?" 



48 



MAR! WOLF 



There was no explaining. Walden 
had never been lonely. 

And then one day, while he 
was reading some fiction from the 
middle period "of the race, Eric 
found the fantasy. Speculation 
about the future, about their fu- 
ture . . . About the new race! 

He read on, his heart pounding, 
until the same old pattern came 
clear. They had foreseen conflict, 
struggle between old race and new, 
suspicion and hatred and tragedy. 
The happy ending was superficial. 
Everyone was motivated as they 
had been motivated. 

He shut the book and sat there, 
wanting to reach back across the 
years to the old race writers who 
had been so right and yet so terri- 
bly, blindly wrong. The writers who 
had seen in the new only a con- 
tinuation of the old, of themselves, 
of their own fears and their own 
hungers. 

"Why did they die, Walden?" He 
didn't expect an answer. 

"Why does any race die, Eric?" 

His own people, forever removed 
from him, linked to him only 
through the books, the pictures, and 
his own backward -reaching emo- 
tions. 

"Walden, hasn't there ever been 
anyone else like me, since they 
died?" 

Silence. Then, slowly, Walden 
nodded. 

"I wondered how long it would 
be before you asked that. Yes, there 
have been others. Sometimes three 
or four in a generation." 

"Then, perhaps . . " 

"No," Walden said. "There 
aren't any others now. We'd know 
it if there were." He turned away 



from Eric, to the plastic wall that 
looked out across the garden and 
the children playing and the long, 
level, flower-carpeted plain. 

"Sometimes, when there's more 
than one of them, they go out there 
away from us, out to the hills where 
it's wild. But they're found, of 
course. Found, and brought back." 
He sighed. "The last of them died 
when I was a boy." 

Others like him. Within Walden's 
lifetime, others, cut off from their 
own race, lonely and rootless in the 
midst of the new. Others like him, 
but not now, in his lifetime. For him 
there were only the books. 

The old race was gone, gone with 
all its conflicts, all its violence, its 
stupidity — and its flaming rockets 
in the void and its Parthenon in 
the moonlight. 



ERIC CAME into the study and 
stopped. The room was filled 
with strangers. There were half a 
dozen men besides Walden, most of 
them fairly old, white-haired and 
studious looking. They all turned to 
look at him, watched him gravely 
without speaking. 

"Well, there he is." Walden 
looked from face to face. "Are 
you still worried? Do you still think 
that one small boy constitutes a 
threat to the race? What about you, 
Abbot?" 

"I don't know. I still think he 
should have been institutionalized 
in the beginning." 

"Why? So you could study the 
brain processes of the lower ani- 
mals?" Walden's thoughts were as 
sarcastic as he could send them. 

"No, of course not. But don't you 



HOMO INFERIOR 



49 



see what you've done, by teaching 
him to read? You've started him 
thinking of the old race, Don't deny 
it" 

"I don't." 

The thin man, Drew, broke in 
angrily. "He's not full grown yet. 
Just fourteen, isn't he? How can 
you be sure what he'll be like later? 
He'll be a problem. They've always 
been problems." 

They were afraid. That was what 
was the matter with them. Walden 
sighed. "Tell them what you've 
been studying, Eric," he said aloud. 

For a minute Eric was too 
tongue-tied to answer. He stood 
motionless, waiting for them to 
laugh at him. 

"Go on. Tell them." 

"I've been reading about the old 
race," Eric said. "All about the 
stars. About the people who went 
off in the starships and explored our 
whole galaxy." 

"What's a galaxy?" the thin man 
said. Walden could perceive that he 
really didn't know. 

Eric's fear lessened. These men 
weren't laughing at him. They 
weren't being just polite, either. 
They were interested. He smiled at 
them, shyly, and told them about 
the books and the wonderful, 
strange tales of the past that the 
books told. The men listened, nod- 
ding from time to time. But he 
knew that they didn't understand. 
The world of the books was his 
alone . . . 

"Well?" Walden looked at the 
others. They looked back. Their 
emotions were a welter of doubt, of 
indecision. 

"You've heard the boy," Walden 
said quietly, thrusting his own un- 



easiness down, out of 'his thoughts. 

"Yes." Abbot hesitated. "He 
seems bright enough — quite dif- 
ferent from what I'd expected. At 
least he's not like the ones who grew 
up wild in the hills. This boy isn't a 
savage." 

Walden shrugged. "Maybe they 
weren't savages either," he sug- 
gested. "After all, it's been fifty 
yean since the last of them died. 
And a lot of legends can spring up 
in fifty years." 

"Perhaps we have been worrying 
unnecessarily." Abbot got up to go, 
but his eyes still held Walden's. 
"But," he added, "it's up to you to 
watch him. If he reverts, becomes 
dangerous in any way, he'll have to 
be locked up. That's final." 

The others nodded. 

"I'll watch him," Walden told 
them. "Just stop worrying." 

He stood at the door and waited 
until they were out of sight. Then 
and only then did he allow himself 
to sigh and taste the fear he'd kept 
hidden. The old men, the men with 
authority, were the dangerous ones. 

Walden snorted. Even with per- 
ception, men could be fools. 



THE SUMMER that Eric was 
sixteen Walden took him to the 
museum. The aircar made the trip 
in just a few hours — but it was far- 
ther than Eric had ever traveled in 
his life, and farther than most peo- 
ple ever bothered traveling. 

The museum lay on an open 
plain where there weren't many 
houses. At first glance it was far 
from impressive. Just a few big 
buildings, housing the artifacts, and 
a few old ruins of ancient construe- 



50 



MARI WOLF 



tions, leveled now and half buried 
in die sands. 

"It's nothing." Eric looked down 
at it, disappointed. "Nothing at 
all." 

"What did you expect?" Walden 
set the aircar down between the 
two largest buildings. "You knew it 
wouldn't be like the pictures in the 
bocks. You knew that none of the 
old race's cities are left." 

"I know," Eric said. "But I ex- 
pected more than this." 

He got out of the car and fol- 
lowed Walden around to the door 
of the first building. Another man, 
almost as old as Walden, came to- 
ward them smiling. The two men 
shook hands and stood happily 
perceiving each other. 

"This is Eric," Walden said 
aloud. "Eric, this is Prior, the care- 
taker here. He was one of my 
schoolmates." 

"It's been years since we've per- 
ceived short range," Prior said. 
"Years. But I suppose the boy wants 
to look around inside?" 

Eric nodded, although he didn't 
care too much. He was too disap- 
pointed to care. There was nothing 
here that he hadn't seen a hundred 
times before. 

They went inside, past some scale 
models of the old cities. The same 
models, though a bit bigger, that 
Eric had seen in the three-dimen- 
sional view-books. Then they went 
into another room, lined with 
thousands of books, some very old, 
many the tiny microfilmed ones 
from the middle periods of the old 
race. 

"How do you like it, Eric?" the 
caretaker said. 

"It's fine," he said flatly, not real- 



ly meaning it. He was angry at him- 
self for feeling disappointment. 
Walden had told him what to ex- 
pect. And yet he'd kept thinking 
that he'd walk into one of the old 
cities and be able to imagine that 
it was ten thousand years ago and 
Dthers were around him. Others 
like him. . . 

Ruins. Ruins covered by dirt, and 
no one of the present race would 
even bother about uncovering 
them. 

Prior and Walden looked at each 
other and smiled. "Did you tell 
him?" the caretaker telcpathed. 

"No. I thought we'd surprise 
him. I knew all the rest would dis- 
appoint him." 

"Eric," the caretaker said aloud. 
"Come this way. There's another 
room I want to show you." 

He followed them downstairs, 
down a long winding ramp that 
spiralcd underground so far that he 
lost track of the distance they had 
descended. He didn't much care 
anyway. Ahead of him, the other 
two were communicating, leaving 
him alone, 

"Through here," Prior said, step- 
ping off the ramp. 

They entered a room that was 
like the bottom of a well, with 
smooth stone sides and far, far 
above them a glass roof, with 
clouds apparently drifting across its 
surface. But it wasn't a well. It was 
a vault, forever preserving the 
thing that had been the old race's 
masterpiece. 

It rested in the center of the 
room, its nose pointing up at the 
sky. It was like the pictures, and 
unlike them. It was big, far bigger 
than Eric had ever visualized it. It 



HOMO INFERIOR 



51 



was tall and smooth and as new 
looking as if its builders had just 
stepped outside for a minute and 
would be back in another minute 
to blast off for the stars. 

"A starship," Walden said. "One 
of the last types." 

"There aren't many left," Prior 
said. "We're lucky to have this one 
in our museum." 

Eric wasn't listening. He was 
looking at the ship. The old race's 
ship. His ship. 

"The old race built strange 
things," Prior said. "This is one of 
die strangest." He shook his head. 
"Imagine the time they put in on 
it. . . And for what?" 

Eric didn't try to answer him. 
He couldn't explain why the old 
ones had built it. But he knew. He 
would have built it himself, if he'd 
lived then. We have cast off the 
planets like outgrown toys, and 
now we want the stars. . . 

His people. His ship. His dream. 



THE OLD CARETAKER 
showed him around the mu- 
seum and then left him alone to 
explore by himself. He had all the 
time he wanted. 

He studied. He worked hard all 
day long, scarcely ever leaving the 
museum grounds. He studied the 
subjects that now were the most 
fascinating to him of all the old 
race's knowledge — the subjects 
that related to the starships. As- 
tronomy, physics, navigation, and 
the complex charts of distant stars, 
distant planets, worlds he'd never 
heard of before. Worlds that to the 
new race were only pin-pricks of 
light in the night sky. 



All day long he studied. But in 
the evening he would go down the 
winding ramp to the ship. The well 
was lighted with a softer, more dif- 
fuse illumination than that of the 
houses. In the soft glow the walls 
and the glass-domed roof seemed 
to disappear and the ship looked 
free, pointing up at the stars. 

He didn't try to tell the care- 
taker what he thought. He just 
went back to his books and his 
studies. There was so much he had 
to learn. And now there was a rea- 
son for his learning. Someday, 
when he was fully grown and strong 
and had mastered all he needed 
from the books, he was going to fly 
the ship. He was going to look for 
his people, the ones who had left 
Earth before the new race came . . . 

He told no one. But Walden 
watched him, and sighed. 

"They'll never let you do it, Eric. 
It's a mad dream." 

"What are you talking about?" 

"The ship. You want to go to 
the stars, don't you?" 

Eric stared at him, more sur- 
prised than he'd been in years. He 
had said nothing. There was no 
way for Walden to know. Unless 
he'd perceived it — and Eric 
couldn't be perceived, any more 
than he could perceive other peo- 
ple. . . 

Walden shook his head. "It 
wasn't telepathy that told me. It 
was your eyes. The way you look 
at the ship. And besides, I've known 
you for years now. And I've won- 
dered how long it would be before 
you thought of this answer." 

"Well, why not?" Eric looked 
across at the ship, and his throat 
caught, choking him, the way it 



52 



MAR! WOLF 



always did. "I'm lonely here. My 
people are gone. Why shouldn't I 
go?" 

"You'd be lonelier inside that 
ship, by yourself, away from Earth, 
away from everything, and with no 
assurance you'd ever find anyone 
at all, old race or new or alien. . ." 

Eric didn't answer. He looted 
back at the ship, thinking of the 
books, trying to think of it as a 
prison, a weightless prison carry- 
ing him forever into the unknown, 
with no one to talk to, no one to 
see. 

Walden was right. He would be 
too much alone in the ship. He'd 
have to postpone his dream. 

He'd wait until he was old, and 
take the ship and die in it. . . 

Eric smiled at the thought. He 
was seventeen, old enough to know 
that his idea was adolescent and 
melodramatic. He knew, suddenly, 
that he'd never fly the ship. 



THE YEARS passed. Eric spent 
most of his time at the museum. 
He had his own aircar now, and 
sometimes he flew it home and vis- 
ited with his parents. They liked 
to have him come. They liked it 
much better than having to travel 
all the way to the museum to visit 
him. 

Yet, though he wasn't depend- 
ent on other people any more, and 
could fly the aircar as he chose, 
he didn't do much exploring. He 
didn't have any desire to meet 
strangers. And there were always 
the books. 

"You're sure you're all right?" 
his mother said. "You don't need 
anything?" 



"No. I'm fine." 

He smiled, looking out through 
the sunporch wall into the garden. 
It seemed years and years since 
he'd pressed his nose to the glass, 
watching the butterflies. It had 
been a long time. 

"I've got to get going," he said. 
"I want to be back at the museum 
by dark." 

"Well, if you're sure you won't 
stay. . ." 

They said goodbye and he went 
out and got into the aircar and 
started back. He flew slowly, close 
to the ground, because he really 
had plenty of time and he felt lazy. 
He skimmed along over a valley 
and heard laughter and dipped 
lower. A group of children was 
playing. Young ones — they even 
talked aloud sometimes as they 
played. Children. . . There were so 
many children, always in groups, 
laughing. . . 

He flew on, quickly, until he was 
in a part of the country where he 
didn't see any houses. Just a stream 
and a grove of trees and bright 
flowers. He dropped lower, stopped, 
got out and walked down to the 
stream. 

It was by another stream that 
he'd met the children who had 
laughed at him, years ago. He 
smiled, sadly. 

He felt alone, but in a different 
sense from his usual isolation. He 
felt free, away from people, away 
even from the books and their un- 
spoken insistence that their writers 
were dead and almost forgotten. 
He stood by the edge of the stream, 
watching water spiders scoot across 
the rippled surface. 

This was the same. This stream 



54 



MARI WOLF 



had probably been here when the 
old race was here, maybe even be- 
fore the old race had even come 
into existence. 

Water spiders. "Compared to 
man, their race was immortal. . . 

The sun was low when he turned 
away from the stream and walked 
back to where he had parked the 
aircar. He scarcely looked about 
him as he walked. He was sure he 
was alone, and he felt no caution, 
no need to watch and listen. 

But as he turned toward the car 
he saw the people. Two. Young, 
about his own age. A boy and a 
girl, smiling at each other, holding 
hands. 

They weren't a dozen feet in 
front of him. But they didn't no- 
tice him. They were conscious of 
no one but each other. As Eric 
watched, standing frozen, unwill- 
ing to draw attention to himself 
by even moving or backing up, the 
two leaned closer together. Their 
arms went around each other, 
tightly, and they kissed. 

They said nothing. They kissed, 
and then stood apart and went on 
looking at each other. Even without 
being able to perceive, Eric could 
feel their emotion. 

Then they turned, slowly, toward 
him. In a moment they would be 
aware of him. He didn't want them 
to think he was spying on them, 
so he went toward them, making 
no effort to be quiet, and as he 
moved they stepped still farther 
apart and looked at him, startled. 

They looked at each other as he 
passed, even more startled, and the 
girl's hand went up to her mouth 
in surprise. 

They know, Eric thought bitter- 



ly. They know I'm different. 

He didn't want to go back to 
the museum. He flew blindly, not 
looking down at the neat domed 
houses and the gardens and the 
people, but ahead, to the eastern 
sky and the upthrust scarp of the 
hills. The hills, where people like 
him had fled, for a little while. 

The occasional ai rears disap- 
peared. The gardens dropped 
away, and the ordered color, and 
there was grass and bare dirt and, 
ahead, the scraggly trees and out- 
thrust rocks of the foothills. No 
people. Only the birds circling, cry- 
ing to each other, curious about 
the car. Only the scurrying animals 
of the underbrush below. 

A little of the tension drained 
from him as he climbed. Perhaps 
in these very hills men like him 
had walked, not many generations 
ago. Perhaps they would walk 
there again, amid the disorder of 
tree and canyon and tumbled rock. 
Amid the wildness, the beauty that 
was neither that of the gardens 
nor that of the old race's cities, but 
older, more enduring than either. 

Below him were other streams, 
but these were swift-flowing, vio- 
lent, sparkling like prismed sun- 
light as they cascaded over the 
rocks. Their wildness called to 
him, soothed him as the starship 
soothed him, as the gardens and 
the neat domed houses never could. 

He knew why his kind had fled 
to the hills, for whatever little time 
they had. He knew too that he 
would come again. 

Searching. Looking for his own 
kind. 

That was what he was doing. 
That was what he had always in- 



HOMO INFERIOR 



55 



tended to do, ever since he had 
heard of the others like himself, 
the men who had come here be- 
fore him. He realized his motive 
suddenly, and realized too the futil- 
ity of it. But futile or not, he would 
come again. 

For he was of the old race. He 
shared their hungering. 



TALDEN WAS READING 

in his study when the council 
members arrived. They came with- 
out advance warning and filed in 
ceremoniously, responding rather 
coolly to his greeting. 

"We're here about the boy," 
Abbot began abruptly. "He's at the 
museum now, isn't he?" 

Walden nodded. "He's been 
spending most of his time there 
lately." 

"Do you think it's wise, letting 
him wander around alone?" 

Trouble. Always trouble. Just be- 
cause there was one young boy, 
Eric, asking only to be let alone. 
And the old council members 
wouldn't rest until they had man- 
aged to find an excuse to put him 
in an institution somewhere, where 
his actions could be watched, where 
there wouldn't be any more uncer- 
tainty. 

"Eric's all right." 

"Is he? Prior tells me he leaves 
the museum every day. He doesn't 
come here. He doesn't visit his 
family." 

The thin man. Drew, broke in. 
"He goes to the hills. Just like the 
others did. Did you know that, 
Walden?" 

Walden's mouth tightened. It 
wouldn't do to let them read his 



hostility to their prying. It would 
be even worse to let them know that 
they worried him. 

"Besides," Drew added, "he's 
old enough to be thinking about 
women now. There's always a 
chance he'll — *' 

"Are you crazy?" Walden 
shouted the words aloud. "Eric's 
not an animal." 

"Isn't he?" Abbot answered 
quietly. "Weren't all the old race 
just animals?" 

Walden turned away from 
them, closing his mind to their 
thoughts. He mustn't show anger. 
If he did, they'd probably decide 
he was too emotional, not to be 
trusted. They'd take Eric away, to 
some institution. Cage him. . . 

"What do you want to do with 
the boy?" Walden forced his 
thoughts to come quietly. "Do you 
want to put him in a zoo with the 
other animals?" 

The sarcasm hurt them. They 
wanted to be fair. Abbot especially 
prided himself on his fairness. 

"Of course not." 

They hesitated. They weren't go- 
ing to do anything. Not this time 
They stood around and made a lit- 
tle polite conversation, about other 
things, and then Abbot turned to- 
ward the door, 

"We just wanted to be sure you 
knew what was going on." Abbot 
paused. "You'll keep an eye on the 
boy, won't you?" 

"Am I his keeper?" Walden 
asked softly. 

They didn't answer him. Their 
thoughts were confused and a bit 
irritated as they went out to the 
aircar that had brought them. But 
he knew they'd be back. And they 



56 



MARI WOLF 



would keep track of Eric. Prior, the 
caretaker, would help them. Prior 
was old too, and worried. . . 

Walden walked back into his 
study, slowly. His legs were trem- 
bling. He hadn't realized how up- 
set he had been. He smiled at the 
intensity of his emotions, realizing 
something he'd always kept hidden, 
even from himself. 

He was as fond of Eric as if the 
boy had been his own son. 



ERIC PUSHED the books away, 
impatiently. He didn't feel like 
studying. The equations were 
meaningless. He was tired of books, 
and history, and all the facts about 
the old race. 

He wanted to be outdoors, ex- 
ploring, walking along the hill- 
sides, looking for his own kind. 

But he had already explored the 
hills. He had flown for miles, and 
walked for miles, and searched 
dozens of caves in dozens of gorges. 
He had found no one. He was sure 
that if there had been anyone he 
would have discovered some sign. 

He opened the book again, but 
he couldn't concentrate on it. 

Beyond those hills, across another 
valley, there were even higher 
mountains. He had often looked 
across at them, wondering what 
they held. They were probably as 
desolate as the ones he'd searched. 
Still, he would rather be out in 
them, looking, than sitting here, 
fretting, almost hating the old race 
because it had somehow be- 
queathed him a heritage of lone- 
liness. 

He got up abruptly and went 
outside to the aircar. 



It was a long way to the second 
range of mountains. He flew there 
directly, skimming over the nearer 
hills, the ones he had spent weeks 
exploring. He dropped low over 
the intervening valley, passing over 
the houses and towns, looking down 
at the gardens. The new race filled 
all the valleys. 

He came into the foothills and 
swung the car upward, climbing 
over the steep mountainsides. With- 
in a mile from the valley's edge 
he was in wild country. He'd 
thought the other hills were wild, 
but here the terrain was jagged and 
rock-strewn, with boulders flung 
about as if by some giant hand. 
There were a hundred narrow can- 
yons, opening into each other, 
steep-sloped, overgrown with bram- 
bles and almost impenetrable, a 
maze with the hills rising around 
them and cutting off all view of 
the surrounding country. 

Eric dropped down into one of 
the larger canyons. Immediately he 
realized how easy it would be to get 
lost in these hills. There were no 
landmarks that were not like a 
hundred jutting others. Without 
the airear he would be lost in a 
few minutes. He wondered sud- 
denly if anyone, old race or new, 
had ever been here before him. 

He set the aircar down on the 
valley floor and got out and walked 
away from it. upstream, following 
the little creek that tumbled past 
him over the rocks. By the time he 
had gone a hundred paces the car 
was out of sight. 

It was quiet. Far away birds 
called to each other, and insects 
buzzed around him, but other than 
these sounds there was nothing but 



HOMO INFERIOR 



57 



his own footsteps and the creek 
rapids. He relaxed, walking more 
slowly, looking about him idly, no 
longer searching for anything. 

He rounded another bend, 
climbed up over a rock that blocked 
his path and dropped down on the 
other side of it. Then he froze, 
staring. 

Not ten feet ahead of him lay 
the ashes of a campfire, still smol- 
dering, still sending a thin wisp of 
smoke up into the air. 



HE SAW NO ONE. Nothing 
moved. No tracks showed in 
the rocky ground. Except for the 
fire, the gorge looked as uninhab- 
ited as any of the others. 

Slowly Eric walked toward the 
campfire and knelt down and held 
his hand over the embers. Heat 
rose about him. The fire hadn't 
been out for very long. 

He turned quickly, glancing 
about him, but there was no sud- 
den motion anywhere, no indica- 
tion that anyone was hiding nearby. 
Perhaps there was nobody near. 
Perhaps whoever had built the fire 
had left it some time before, and 
was miles away by now. . . 

He didn't think so. He had a 
feeling that eyes were watching 
him. It was a strange feeling, al- 
most as if he could perceive. Wish- 
ful thinking, he told himself. Un- 
real, untrue. . . 

But someone had been here. 
Someone had built the fire. And it 
was probably, almost certainly, 
someone without perception. Some- 
one like himself. 

His knees were shaking. His 
hands trembled, and sweat broke 



out on the palms. Yet his thoughts 
seemed calm, icily calm. It was just 
a nervous reaction, he knew that. 
A reaction to the sudden knowl- 
edge that people were here, out in 
these hills where he had searched 
for them but never, deep down, ex- 
pected to find them. They were 
probably watching him right now, 
hidden up among the trees some- 
where, afraid to move because then 
he would see them and start out to 
capture them. 

If there were people here, they 
must think that he was one of the 
normal ones. That he could per- 
ceive. So they would keep quiet, 
because a person with perception 
couldn't possibly perceive a person 
who lacked it. They would remain 
motionless, hoping to stay hidden, 
waiting for him to leave so that 
they could flee deeper into the hills. 

They couldn't know that he wae 
one of them. 

He felt helpless, suddenly. So 
near, so near — and yet he couldn't 
reach them. The people who lived 
here in the wild mountain gorges 
could elude him forever. 

No motion. No sound. Only the 
embers, smoking, . . 

"Listen," he called aloud. "Can 
you hear me?" 

The canyon walls caught his 
voice, sent it echoing back, fainter 
and fainter. ". . . can you hear me 
can you hear me can you. . ." 

No one answered. 

"Pm your friend," he called. "I 
can't perceive. I'm one of you." 

Over and over it echoed. ". . . one 
of you one of you one of you. . ." 

"Answer me. I've run away from 
them too. Answer me!" 

"Answer me answer me answer 



58 



The echoes died away and it was 
quiet, too quiet. No sound. Even if 
they heard him, they wouldn't an- 
swer. 

He couldn't track them. If they 
had homes that were easy to find 
they would have left them by now, 
He was helpless. 

The heat from the fire rose about 
him. and he tasted smoke and 
coughed. Nothing moved. Finally 
he Itood up, turned away from the 
fire and walked on past it, up the 
stream. 

No one. No tracks. No sign. Only 
the feeling that other eyes watched 
him as he walked along, other cars 
listened for the sound of his passing. 

He turned back, retraced his 
steps to the fire. The embers had 
blackened. The wisp of smoke that 
curled upward was very thin now. 
Otherwise everything was the same 
as it had been. 

He couldn't give up and fly back 
to the museum. If he did he might 
never find them again. But even if 
he didn't, hfi might never find 
them. 

"Listen!" He screamed the word, 
10 loudly that they could have 
heard il miles away. "I'm one of 
you. I can't perceive. Believe me! 
You've got to believe me!" 

"Believe me believe me believe 
me. . ." 

Nothing. The tension went out 
of } i iiii suddenly and he began to 
tremble again, and his throal 
choked u]j. wanting to cry. He 
stumbled away from the embers, 
bai k in the direction of the aircar. 

''Believe me. . ." This time the 
words were little more than a whis- 
per, and there was no echo. 



MAR1 WOLF 

"I believe you," a voice said 
quietly. 



HE SWUNG ABOUT, trying 
to place it, and saw the wom- 
an. She stood at the edge of the 
trees, above the campfire, half hid- 
den in die undergrowdi. She 
looked down at him warily, a rock 
clenched in her hand. She wasn't 
an attractive sight. 

She looked old, with a leathery 
skin and gnarled arms and legs. 
Her grey-white hair was matted, 
pulled back into a snarled bun be- 
hind her head. She wore a shape- 
less dress of some roughwoven ma- 
terial that hung limply from her 
shoulders, torn, dirty, ancient. He'd 
never seen an animal as dirty as 
she. 

"So you can't perceive," the 
woman cackled. "I believe it, boy. 
You don't have that look about 
you." 

"I didn't know," Eric said softly. 
"I never knew until today that 
there were any others," 

She laughed, a high-pitched 
laugh that broke off into a choking 
cough. "There aren't many of us, 
boy. Not many. Me and Nell — but 
she's an old, old woman. And Lisa, 
of course. . ." 

She cackled again, nodding. "I 
always told Lisa to wait." she said 
firmly. "I told her that there'd be 
another young one along." 

"Who are you?" Eric said. 

"Me? Call me Mag. Come on, 
boy. Come on. What are you wait- 
ing for?" 

She turned and started off up 
the hill, walking so fast that she 
was almost out of sight among the 



HOMO INFERIOR 



59 



beea before Eric recovered enough 
to follow her. He stumbled after 
her, clawing his way up the steep 
slope, slipping and grabbing the 
branches with his hands and haul- 
ing himself up the rocks. 

"You're a slow one." The old 
woman paused and waited for him 
to catch up. "Where' ve you been all 
your life? You don't act like a 
mountain boy." 

"I'm not," Eric said. "I'm from 
the valley. . ." 

He stopped talking. He realized, 
suddenly, the futility of trying to 
explain his life to her. If she had 
ever known the towns, it would 
have been years ago. She was too 
old, and tattered, and so dirty that 
her smell wasn't even a good clean 
animal smell. 

"Hurry up, boy!" 

He felt unreal, as if this were a 
dream, as if he would awaken sud- 
denly and be back at the museum. 
He almost wished that he would. 
He couldn't believe that he had 
found another like himself and was 
now following her, scrambling up a 
mountain as if he were a goat. 

A goat. Smells. The dirty old 
woman in front of him. He wrin- 
kled his nose in disgust and then 
was furious with himself, with his 
reactions, with the sudden knowl- 
edge that he had glamorized his 
kind and had hoped to find them 
noble and brilliant. 

This tattered old woman with 
her cackling laugh and leathery, 
toothless face and dirt encrusted 
clothing couldn't be like him. He 
couldn't accept it. . . 

Mag led him up the slope and 
then over some heaped boulders, 
and suddenly they were on level 



ground again. They had come out 
into a tiny canyon, a blind pocket 
recessed into the mountain, almost 
completely surrounded by walls 
that rose sharply upward. Back 
across the gorge, huddled against 
the face of the mountain, was a 
tiny hut. 

It was primitive, like those in the 
prehistoric sections of the old his- 
tory books. It was made of branches 
lashed together, with sides that 
leaned crookedly against each other 
and a matted roof that looked as 
if it would slide off at any minute. 
It was like a twig house that a 
child might make with sticks and 
grass. 

"Our home," Mag said. Her 
voice was proud. 

He didn't answer. He followed 
her across toward it, past the 
mounds of refuse, the fruit rinds 
and bones and skins that were flung 
carelessly beside the trail. He 
smelled the scent of decay and rot- 
tenness and turned his head away, 
feeling sick. 

"Lisa! Lisa!" Mag shouted, the 
words echoing and re-echoing, 

A figure moved just inside the 
hut doorway. "She's not hen ," a 
voice called. "She's out hunting." 

"Well, come on out, Nell, and 
see what I've found." 

The figure moved slowly out 
from the gloom of the hut, bending 
to get through the low door, half 
straightening up outside, and Eric 
saw that it was an old, old woman. 
She couldn't straighten very far. 
She was too old, bent and twisted 
and brittle, feebler looking than 
anyone Eric had ever seen before. 
She hobbled toward him slowly, 
teetering from side to side as she 



60 



MARI WOLF 



walked, her hands held out in front 
of her, her eyes on the ground. 

"What is it, Mag?" Her voice 
was as twisted as her body. 

"A boy. Valley -boy. Just the age 
for our Lisa, too." 

Eric felt his face redden and he 
opened his mouth to protest, to say 
something, anything, but Mag 
went right on talking, ignoring 
him. 

"The boy came in an aircar. I 
thought he was one of the normals 
— but he's not. Hasn't their ways. 
Good looking boy, too," 

"Is he?" Nell had reached them- 
She stopped and looked up, right 
into Eric's face, and for the first 
time he realized that she was blind. 
Her eyes were milky white, without 
pupils, without irises. Against the 
brown leather of her skin they 
looked moist and dead. 

"Speak, boy," she croaked. "Let 
me hear your voice." 

"Hello," Eric said, feeling utterly 
foolish and utterly confused. "I'm 
Eric." 

"Eric. . ." Nell reached out, 
touched his arm with her hand, ran 
her fingers up over his shoulders, 
over his chest. 

"It's been a long time since I've 
heard a man's voice," she said. 
"Not since Mag here was a little 
girl." 

"Have you been — here — all that 
time?" Eric asked, looking around 
him at the hut, and the meat hang- 
ing to dry, covered with flies, and 
the leather water bags, and the 
mounds of refuse, the huge, heaped 
mounds that he couldn't stop smell- 
ing. 

"Yes," Nell said. "I've been here 
longer than I want to remember, 



boy. We came here from the other 
mountains when Mag was only a 
baby." 



THEY WALKED toward the 
hut, and as they neared it he 
smelled a new smell, that of stale 
smoke and stale sweat overlying the 
general odor of decay. 

"Let's talk out here," he said, not 
wanting to go inside. 

They sat down on the hard earth 
and the two women turned their 
faces toward him, Mag watching 
him intently, Nell listening, her 
head cocked to one side like an old 
crippled bird's. 

"I always thought I was the only 
one like me," Eric said. "The peo- 
ple don't know of any others. They 
don't know you exist. They 
wouldn't believe it." 

"That's the way we want it," 
Mag said. "That's the only way it 
can be." 

Nell nodded. "I was a girl in the 
other hills," she said, nodding to- 
ward the west, toward the museum. 
"There were several of us then. 
There had been families of us in 
my father's time, and in his father's 
time, and maybe before that even. 
But when I was a girl there was 
only my father and my mother and 
another wife of my father's, and a 
lot of children, . ." 

She paused, still looking toward 
the west, facing a horizon she could 
no longer see. "The normal ones 
came. We'd hidden from them be- 
fore. But this time we had no 
chance to hide. I was hunting, with 
the boy who was my father's 
nephew. 

"They surrounded the hut. They 



HOMO INFERIOR 



61 



didn't make any sound. They don't 
have to. I was in the forest when I 
heard my mother scream." 

"Did they kill her?" Eric cried 
out. "They wouldn't do that." 

"No, they didn't kill any of them. 
They dragged them off to the air- 
cars, all of them. My father, my 
mother and the other woman, the 
children. We watched from the 
trees and saw them dragged off, 
tied with ropes, like wild animals. 
The cars flew away. Our people 
never came back." 

She stopped, sunken in revery. 
Mag took up the story. Her voice 
was matter-of-fact, completely cas- 
ual about those long ago events. 

"A bear killed my father. That 
was after we came back here. Nell 
was sick. I did the hunting. We 
almost starved, for a while, but 
there's lots of game in the hills. It's 
a good life here. But I've been 
sorry for Lisa. She's a woman now. 
. She needs a man. I'm glad you 
came. I would have hated to send 
her out looking for a normal one." 

"But — " Eric stopped, his head 
whirling. He didn't know what to 
say. Anything at all would sound 
wrong, cruel, 

"It's dangerous," Mag went on, 
"taking up with the normals. They 
think it's wrong. They think we're 
animals. One of us has to pick a 
man who's stupid — a farmer, may- 
be—and even then it's like being a 
pet. A beast." 

It took a moment for Eric to real- 
ize what she was saying, and when 
he did realize, the thought horri- 
fied him. 

"Lisa's father was stupid," Mag 
said. "He took me in when I came 
down from the hills. He didn't send 



for the others. Not then. He kept 
me and fed mc and treated me 
kindly, and I thought I was safe. I 
thought our kind and theirs could 
live together." 

She laughed. Deep, bitter lines 
creased her. mouth. "A week later 
the aircar came. They sneaked up 
to the garden where I was. He was 
with them. He was leading them." 

She laughed again. "Their kind- 
ness means nothing. Their love 
means nothing. To them, we're 
animals." 

The old woman, Nell, rocked 
back and forth, her face still in 
revery. Flies crawled over her bare 
arms, unheeded. 

"I got away," Mag said. "I saw 
them coming. They can't run fast, 
and I knew the hiding places. I 
never went back to the valleys. Nell 
would have starved without me. 
And there was Lisa to care for, 
later. . ." 

The flies settled on Eric's hands 
and he brushed them away, shiver- 
ing. 

Mag smiled. The bitterness left 
her face. "I'm glad I don't have to 
send Lisa down to the valley." 

She got up before he could an- 
swer, before he could even think 
of anything to say or do. Crossing 
over to the pole where the dried 
meat hung, she pulled a piece of it 
loose and brought it back to where 
they sat. Some she gave to the old 
woman and some she kept for her- 
self and the rest, most of it, she 
tossed to Eric. 

"You must be hungry, boy." 

It was filthy. Dirt clung to it — 
dust and pollen and grime — and 
the flies had flown off in clouds 
when she lifted it down. 



62 

The old woman raised her piece 
and put the edge of it in her mouth 
and started to chew, slowly, eating 
her way up the strip. Mag tore hers 
with her teeth, rending it and swal- 
lowing it quickly, watching Eric 
all the time. 

"Eat." 

It was unreal. He couldn't be 
here. These women couldn't exist. 

He lifted the meat, feeling his 
stomach knot with disgust, wanting 
to fling it from him and run, blind- 
ly, down the hill to the aircar. But 
he didn't. He had searched too long 
to flee now. Shuddering, he closed 
his mind to the flies and the smell 
and the filth and bit into the meat 
and chewed it and swallowed it. 
And all the time, Mag watched 
him. 

The sun passed overhead and be- 
gan to dip toward the west. The 
shadows, which had shortened as 
they sat in front of the hut, length- 
ened again, until they themselves 
were half in the shadow of the trees 
lining the gorge. Still Lisa did not 
come. It was very quiet. The only 
sounds that broke the silence were 
their own voices and the buzzing 
of the flies. 

They talked, but communication 
was difficult between them. Eric 
tried to accept their ideas, their way 
of life, but he couldn't. The things 
they said were strange to him. 
Their whole pattern of life was 
strange to him, He could under- 
stand it at all only because he had 
studied the primitive peoples of the 
old race. But he couldn't imagine 
himself as one of them. He couldn't 
think of himself as having grown 
up among them, in the hills, living 
only to hunt and gather berries and 



MARI WOLF 

store food for the wintertime. He 
couldn't think of himself hiding, 
creeping through the gorges like a 
hunted animal, flattening himself in 
the underbrush whenever an aircar 
passed by. 

He sat and listened to them talk, 
and his amazement grew. Their be- 
liefs were so different He listened 
to their superstitious accounts of the 
old race, and the way it had been 
"in the beginning." 

He listened to their legends of 
the old gods who flew through the 
air and were a mighty people, but 
who were destroyed by a new race 
of devils. He listened as they told 
him of their own ancestors, chil- 
dren of the gods, who had fled to 
the hills to await the gods 1 return. 
They had no conception at all of 
the thousands of years that had 
elapsed between the old race's 
passing and their own forefathers' 
flight into the hills. And when he 
tried to explain, they shook their 
heads and wouldn't believe him. 

He didn't hear Lisa come. One 
minute the far end of the clearing 
was empty and still and the next 
minute the girl was walking across 
it toward them, a bow in one hand 
and a pair of rabbits dangling from 
the other. 



SHE SAW HIM and stopped, 
the rabbits dropping from her 
hand. 

"Here's your young man, Lisa," 
Mag said. "Valley boy. His name's 
Eric." 

He stared back at her, more in 
curiosity than in surprise. She 
wasn't nearly as unattractive as he 
had thought she would be. She 



HOMO INFERIOR 



63 



wouldn't be bad looking at all, he 
thought, if she were clean. She was 
fairly tall and lean, too skinny 
really, with thin muscular arms in- 
stead of the softly rounded arms 
the valley girls had. She was too 
brown, but her skin hadn't turned 
leathery yet, and there was still a 
little life in the lank brown hair 
that fell matted about her shoul- 
ders. 

"Hello. Lisa/' he said. 

"Hello." Her eyes never left him. 
She stared at him, her lips trem- 
bling, her whole body tensed. She 
looked as if she were going to turn 
and run at any moment, as if only 
his quietness kept her from fleeing. 

With a sudden shock Eric real- 
ized that she too was afraid — 
afraid of him. His own hesitation 
fell away and he smiled at her. 

Mag got up and went over to the 
girl and put her arm around Lisa's 
shoulders. "Don't be afraid of him, 
child," Mag said. "He's a nice boy. 
Not like one of them." 

Lisa trembled. 

Eric watched her, pitying her. 
She was as helpless as he before the 
calm assumption of the older wom- 
en. More helpless, because she had 
probably never thought of defying 
them, of escaping the pattern of 
their lives. 

"Don't worry, Lisa," he said. "I 
won't hurt you." 

Slowly she walked toward him, 
poised, waiting for a hostile move. 
She came within a few feet of him 
and then sank to her haunches, still 
watching him, still poised. 

She was as savage as the others. 
A graceful, dirty savage. 

"You're really one of us?" she 
said. "You can't perceive?" 



"No," he said. "I can't perceive.'* 

"He's not like them," Mag said 
flatly. "If you'd ever been among 
them, you'd know their ways." 

"I've never seen a man before, 
up close," Lisa said. 

Her eyes pleaded with him, and 
suddenly he knew why he pitied 
her. It was because she felt help- 
less before him, and begged him 
not to harm her, and thought of 
him as something above her, more 
powerful than she, and dangerous. 
He looked across at her and felt 
protective, and it was a new feel- 
ing to him, absolutely new. Because 
always before, around the normals, 
even around his own parents and 
Walden, he had been the helpless 
one. 

He liked this new feeling, and 
wished it could last. But it couldn't. 
He couldn't do as the old women 
expected him to, leave the valley 
and his parents, leave the books 
and the museum and the ship, just 
to hide in the hills like a beast with 
them. 

He had come to find his people, 
but these three were not they. 

"You two go on off and talk," 
Mag said. "We're old. We don't 
matter now. You've got things to 
settle between you." 

She cackled again and got up 
and went into the hut and old Nell 
got up also and followed her. 

The girl shivered. She drew back 
a little, away from him. Her eyes 
never left his face. 

"Don't be afraid, Lisa," he said 
gently. "I won't hurt you. I won't 
even touch you. But I would like 
to talk to you." 

"All right," she said. 

They got up and walked to the 



HOMO INFERIOR 



65 



end of the gorge, the girl keeping 
always a few feet from him. At the 
boulders she stopped and faced 
him, her back against a rock, her 
thin body still trembling. 

"Lisa," he said. "I want to be 
your friend." 

Her eyes widened. "How can 
you?" she said. "Men are friends. 
Women are friends. But you're a 
man and I'm a woman and it's dif- 
ferent." 

He shook his head helplessly, try- 
ing to think of a way to explain 
things to her. He couldn't say that 
he found her dirty and unattractive 
and almost another species. He 
couldn't say that he'd searched the 
hills, often thinking of the relation- 
ship between man and woman, but 
that she wasn't the woman, that she 
never could be the woman for him. 
He couldn't Jell her that he pitied 
her in perhaps the same way that 
the normals pitied him. 

Still, he wanted to talk to her. 
He wanted to be her friend. Be- 
cause he was sure now that he could 
search the mountains forever, and 
perhaps find other people, even if 
those he found were like her, and 
Mag and Nell. 

"Listen, Lisa," he said. "I can't 
live up here. I live in the valley. I 
came in an aircar, and it's down in 
the canyon below here. I have to go 
back — soon. Before it gets com- 
pletely dark." 

"Why?" 

"If I don't the normals will come 
looking for me. They'll find the air- 
car and then they'll find us. And 
you and your family will be taken 
away. Don't you understand?" 

"You're going?" Lisa said. 

"In a little while. I must." 



She looked at him, strangely. 
She looked at his clothes, at his 
face, at his body. Then she looked 
at her own hands and touched her 
own coarse dress, and she nodded. 

"You won't come back," she said. 
"You don't like me. I'm not what 
you were searching for." 

He couldn't answer. Her words 
hurt him. The very fact that she 
could recognize their difference 
from each other hurt him. He 
pitied her still more. 

"I'll come back," he said. "Of 
course I will. As often as I can. 
You're the only other people I've 
ever known who didn't perceive." 

She looked up into his face again. 
Her eyes were very large. They 
were the only beautiful thing about 
her. 

"Even if you do come back, you 
won't want me." 

There wasn't any answer at all. 



IT WAS DUSK when Eric got 
back to the museum. He landed 
the aircar and climbed out and 
walked across to the building, still 
feeling unreal, still not believing 
that the events of this day had ac- 
tually happened. 

He nodded to Prior and the old 
caretaker nodded back and then 
stood staring at him, troubled and 
curious. Eric didn't notice the oth- 
er's expression, nor the fact that 
Prior followed him to the top of 
the spiral ramp and remained there 
for a while, watching. 

Eric stood at the bottom of the 
well where he had so often stood 
before, staring across at the ship, 
then looking up, up, up its sleek 
length to where its nose pointed 



66 



MARI WOLF 



yearningly toward the night sky. 
But tonight he found no comfort in 
the sight, no sense of kinship with 
its builders. Tonight the ship was a 
dead and empty thing. 

"You won't want me — " Her 
voice, her eyes, came between him 
and the stars. 

He had thought of rinding his 
people and sharing with them their 
common heritage from the past, fhe 
knowledge of the old race and its 
thoughts and its science and its 
philosophy. He had thought of 
sharing with them the old desire 
for the stars, the old hunger, the 
old loneliness that the new race 
could never understand. He had 
been wrong. 

His people. . . He pushed the 
thought away. 

He looked up at the stars that 
were merely pin-pricks of light at 
the top of the well and wondered if 
anyone, old race or new or some- 
thing different from either, lived 
among them now. And he felt small, 
and even the ship was small, and 
his own problems and his own 
search were unimportant. He sat 
down and leaned back against the 
smooth wall and closed his eyes, 
blotting out the ship and the stars, 
and finally, even Lisa's face before 
him. 

The old caretaker found him 
sleeping there, and sighed, and 
went away again, still frowning. 
Eric slept on, unheeding. When he 
awoke it was late morning and the 
stars were gone and clouds drifted 
across the mouth of the well. 

There was no answer here. The 
starship would never fly. 

And Eric went back to the 
mountains. 



IT WAS TWO weeks later that 
the councilmen stood facing 
Walden across the great museum 
table. They had come together, 
Abbot and Drew and the others, 
and they faced him together, 
frowning. Their thoughts were 
hidden. Walden could catch only 
glimpses of what lay beneath their 
worry. 

"Every day." Abbot's eyes were 
hard, unyielding. "Why, Walden? 
Why does he go there every day?" 

"Does it matter?" 

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. We can't 
tell — yet." 

The ring of faces, of buried per- 
ceptions, of fear, anxiety, and a 
worry that could no longer be 
shrugged off. And Eric away, as he 
was every day now, somewhere in 
the distant hills. 

"The boy's all right." Walden 
checked his own rush of worry. 

"Is he?" 

The worry in the open now, the 
fear uncontained, and no more 
vacillation. Their thoughts hidden 
from Walden, their plans hidden, 
and nothing he could do, no way to 
warn Eric, yet. 

Abbot smiled, humorlessly. "The 
boy had better be all right. . ." 



ERIC LANDED in the canyon 
and made sure that the aircar 
was hidden under a ledge, with 
branches drawn about it so that no 
one could spot it from above. Then 
he turned and started for the slope, 
and as he reached it Lisa ran down 
to meet him. 

"You're late," she called. 

"Am I? Have you really been 
waiting for me?" 



HOMO INFERIOR 



67 



"Of course." She came over to 
meet him, laughing, openly glad 
that he had come. 

He smiled back at her and 
walked along beside her, having to 
take long strides to match her skip- 
ping ones, and he too was glad that 
he'd come. Lately he felt like this 
every day. It was a feeling he 
couldn't analyze. Nothing had 
changed. The girl was still too thin 
and too brown and too dirty, al- 
though now she had begun to wash 
her dress and her body in the 
mountain stream and to comb the 
snarls from her hair. But it didn't 
make her attractive to him. It only 
made her less unattractive. 

"Will you always have to go 
away every night?" she asked 
guilelessly. 

"I suppose so." 

He looked down at her and 
smiled, wondering why he came. 
There was still an air of unreality 
about the whole situation. He felt 
numb. He had felt that way ever 
since the first day, and the feeling 
had grown, until now he moved 
and spoke and smiled and ate and 
it was as if he were someone else 
and the person he had been was 
gone completely. He liked coming 
here. But there was no triumph 
in being with these people, no sense 
of having found his own kind, no 
purpose, nothing but a vague con- 
tentment and an unwillingness to 
search any farther. 

"You're very quiet," Lisa said. 
"I know. I was thinking." 
She reached out and touched his 
arm, her fingers strong and mus- 
cular. He smiled at her but made 
no move toward her, and after a 
moment she sighed and took her 



hand away. 

"Why are you so different, Eric?" 

"Perhaps because I was raised 
by the others, the normal ones. 
Perhaps just because I've read so 
many books about the old race. . ." 

They came up to the boulders 
that blocked the entrance of the 
little gorge where the hut was. Lisa 
started toward them, then stopped 
abruptly. 

"Let's go on up the hill. I want 
to talk to you, without them." 

"All right." 

He followed her without speak- 
ing, concentrating all his effort on 
scrambling over the rougher spots 
in the trail. She didn't say any- 
thing more until they had come out 
on a high ledge that overlooked 
the whole canyon and she had sat 
down and motioned for him to sit 
down too. 

"Whew," he panted. "You're a 
mountain goat, Lisa." 

She didn't smile. "I've liked your 
coming to see us," she said. "I 
like to listen to you talk. I like the 
tales you tell of the old ones. But 
Mag and Nell are upset." 

He knew what was coining. His 
eyes met hers, and then he looked 
away and reddened and felt sorry 
for her and what he would have 
to tell her. This was a subject they 
had managed to avoid ever since 
that first day, although the older 
women brought it up whenever he 
saw them. 

"Mag says I must have a man," 
Lisa said. Her voice was tight. He 
couldn't tell if she was crying be- 
cause he couldn't bear to look at 
her. He could only stare out over 
the canyon and listen and wait. 
"She says if it isn't you I'll have 



68 



MARI WOLF 



to find someone else, later on, but 
she says it ought to be you. Because 
they're dangerous, and besides, if 
it's you our children will be sure 
to be like us." 

"What?" He swung around, 
startled. "Do you mean that if one 
parent were normal the child might 
be too?" 

"Yes," she said. "It might. They 
say that's happened. Sometimes. No 
one knows why we're born. No one 
knows why some are one way and 
some another." 

"Lisa. . ." He stopped. 

"1 know. You don't want me. 
I've known that all the time." 

"It isn't just that." 

He tried to find the words to ex- 
press what he felt, but anything he 
might say would be cold and cruel 
and not quite true. He felt the 
contentment drain out of him, and 
he felt annoyed, because he didn't 
want to have to think about her 
problem, or about anything. 

"Why do they want you to have 
a child?" he said roughly. "Why 
do they want our kind to go on, 
living here like animals, or taken 
to the valleys and separated from 
each other and put into institutions 
until we die? Why dou't they ad- 
mit that we've lost, that the nor- 
mals own the Earth? Why don't 
they stop breeding and let us die?" 

"Your parents were normal, 
Eric. If all of us died, others would 
be born, someday." 

He nodded and then he closed 
his eyes and fought against the 
despair that rose suddenly within 
him and blotted out the last of the 
contentment and the unreality. He 
fought against it and lost. And sud- 
denly Lisa was very real, more real 



even than the books had ever been. 
And the dirty old women were sud- 
denly people — individuals, not sav- 
ages. He tried to pity them, to re- 
treat into his pity and his loneli- 
ness, but he couldn't even do that. 

The people he had looked for 
were imaginary. He would never 
find them, because Mag and Nell 
and Lisa were his people. They 
were like him, and the only differ- 
ence between him and them was 
one of luck. They were dirty and 
ignorant. They had been born in 
the mountains and hunted like 
beasts. He was more fortunate; he 
had been born in the valley. 

He was a snob. He had looked 
down on them, when all the time 
he was one of them. If he had been 
born among them, he would have 
been as they were. And, if Lisa had 
lived in another age, she too would 
have sought the stars. 

Eric sat very still and fought un- 
til a little of the turmoil quieted 
inside of him. Then he opened his 
eyes again and stared across the 
canyon, at the rock slides and the 
trees growing out from the slopes 
at twisting, precarious angles, and 
he saw everything in a new light. 
He saw the old race as it had been 
far earlier than the age of space- 
travel, and he knew that it had 
conquered many environments on 
Earth before it had gained a chance 
to try for those of space. He felt 
humble, suddenly, and proud at the 
same time. 

Lisa sat beside him, not speaking, 
drawing away from him and letting 
him be by himself, as if she knew 
the conflicts within him and knew 
enough not to interrupt. He was 
grateful both for her presence there 



HOMO INFERIOR 



69 



beside him and for her silence. 

Much later, when afternoon 
shadows had crept well out from 
the rocks, she turned to him. "Will 
you take me to the valley someday, 
Eric?" 

"Maybe. But no one must know 
about you. You know what would 
happen if any of them found out 
you even existed." 

"Yes," she said. "We'd have to 
be careful, all right. But you could 
take me for a ride in the aircar 
sometime and show me things." 

Before, he would have shrugged 
off her words and forgotten them. 
Now he couldn't. Decision crys- 
talized quickly in his mind. 

"Come on, Lisa," he said, get- 
ting to his feet and reaching down 
to help her up also. "I'll take you 
to the valley right now." 

She looked up at him, unable to 
speak, her eyes shining, and then 
she was running ahead of him, 
down the slope toward the aircar. 



THE CAR climbed swiftly away 
from the valley floor, up be- 
tween the canyon walls and above 
them, over the crest of the hills. He 
circled it for a moment, banking it 
over on its side so that she could 
look down at the gorge and the 
rocks and the cascading stream. 
"How do you like it, Lisa?" 
"I don't know." She smiled, 
rather weakly, her body braced 
against the seat. "It feels so 
strange," 

He smiled back and straightened 
the car, turning away from the 
mountains until the great, gardened 
valley stretched out before them, 
all the way to the foot of the west- 



ern hills. 

"I'll show you the museum," he 
said. "I only wish I could take you 
inside." 

She moved away from him, near- 
er to the window, and looked down 
at the scattered houses that lay be- 
low them, at the people moving in 
the gardens, at the children. 

"I never dreamed it was like 
this," she said. "I never could pic- 
ture it before." 

There was a longing in her face 
he'd never noticed before. He stared 
at her, and she was different sud- 
denly, and her thin muscular body 
was different too. 

Pioneer — that was the word he 
wanted. 

The girls of the new race could 
never be pioneers. 

"Look, Eric. Over there. Air- 
cars." 

The words broke in on his 
thoughts and he looked away from 
her, following her gaze incuriously, 
not much interested. And then his 
fingers stiffened on the controls and 
the peacef ulness fell away from him 
as if it had never been. 

"Lots of them," she said. 

Aircars. Eight or ten of them, 
more than he had ever seen at one 
time, spread out in a line and fly- 
ing eastward, straight toward him. 

They mustn't see Lisa. They 
mustn't get close enough to realize 
who he was. 

He swung away from them, per- 
pendicular to their course, angling 
so that he would be out of percep- 
tion range, and then he circled, 
close to the ground, as they swept 
by, undeviating, purposeful, toward 
the mountains. 

Toward the mountains. 



70 



MARl WOLF 



Fear. Sudden, numbing fear and 
the realization of his own careless- 
ness. 

"What's the matter, Eric?" 

He had swung about and now 
followed them, far behind them 
and off to one side, much too far 
away for them to try to perceive 
him. Perhaps, he thought, perhaps 
they don't know. But all the time 
he remembered his own trips to the 
canyon, taken so openly. 

"Oh, Eric, they're not — " 

He swung up over the last ridge 
and looked down, and her words 
choked off in her throat. Below 
them lay the canyon, and in it, the 
long line of aircars, landed now, 
cutting off the gorge, the light re- 
flecting off them, bronze in the 
sunset. And the tiny figures of men 
were even now spreading out from 
the cars. 

"What'll we do, Eric?" 

Panic. In her voice and in her 
eyes and in her fingers that bit into 
In-, arm, hurting him, steadying 
him against his own fear and the 
twisting realization of his betraying 
lack of caution. 

"Run. What elese can we do?" 

Down back over the ridge, out 
of sight of the aircars and into the 
foothills, and all the while knowing 
that there was nowhere to run to 
now. 

"No, Eric! We've got to go back. 
We've got to find Mag and Nell — " 
Her voice rose in anguish, then 
broke, and she was crying. 

"We can't help them by going 
back/' he said harshly. "Maybe they 
got away. Maybe they didn't. But 
the others would catch us for sure 
if they got near us." 

Run. It was all they could do, 



now. Run to other hills and leave 
the aircar and hide, and live as 
Lisa had lived, as others of their 
kind had lived. 

"We've got to think of ourselves, 
Lisa. It's all we can do, now." 

Down through the foothills, 
toward the open valley, and the 
future, the long blind race to other 
mountains, and no choice left, no 
alternative, and the books lost and 
the starship left behind, forever . . . 

Lisa cried, and her fingers bit 
into his arm. Ahead of him. too 
close to flee or deceive, was another 
line of aircars, flying in from the 
valley, their formation breaking as 
they veered toward him. 

"Land, Eric. Land and run!" 

"We can't, Lisa. There's not 
enough time." 

Everything was lost now — even 
the hills. 

Unless . . . one chance. The only 
chance, and it was nearly hopeless. 

"Get in the back, Lisa," he said. 
"Climb over the seat and hide in 
that storage compartment. And stay 
there." 

The two nearest cars had swung 
about now and paralleled his 
course, flanking him, drifting in 
nearer and nearer. 

"Why?" Lisa clung to him. 
"What are you going to do?" 

"They don't know you're with 
me. They probably don't even know 
I went back to the canyon. They 
think I'll land at the museum, not 
suspecting anything's wrong. So 1*11 
do just what they expect me to. Go 
back, and pretend I don't know a 
thing." 

"You're mad." 

"It's our only chance, Lisa. If 
only they don't lock me up to- 



HOMO INFERIOR 



71 



night . . ." 

She clung to him for still another 
minute and then she climbed over 
the seat and he heard the luggage 
compartment panel slide open and, 
a moment later, shut. 

The nearest aircar drifted still 
closer to him, escorting him west- 
ward, toward the museum. Behind 
him, other cars closed in. 



TALDEN AND PRIOR were 
waiting for him at the en- 
trance of the main building, just 
as they had waited so often before. 
He greeted them casually, trying to 
act exactly as he usually did, but 
their greetings to him were far from 
casual. They stared at him oddly, 
Prior even drawing back a little as 
he approached. Walden looked at 
him for a long moment, very seri- 
ously, as if trying to tell him some- 
thing, but what it was Eric didn't 
know. Both men were worried, their 
anxiety showing in their manner, 
and Eric wondered if he himself 
showed the fear that gripped him. 

They must know what had hap- 
pened. By now probably every nor- 
mal person within a hundred miles 
of the museum must know. 

At the entrance he glanced back 
idly and saw that one of the aircars 
that had followed him had landed 
and that the others were angling 
off again, leaving. It was too dark 
to see how many men got out of the 
car, but Walden and Prior were 
facing in that direction, communi- 
cating, and Eric knew that they 
knew. Everything. 

It was like a trap around him, 
with each of their minds a strand 
of the net, and he was unable to 



see which strands were about to 
entangle him, unable to see if there 
were any holes through which he 
might escape. All he could do was 
pretend that he didn't even know 
the net existed, and wait. 

Half a dozen men came up to 
Prior and Walden. One of them 
was Abbot. His face was very stern, 
and when he glanced over at where 
Eric stood in the building entrance 
his face grew even sterner. 

Eric watched them for a mo- 
ment; then he went inside, the way 
he usually did when there were lots 
of people around. He wished he 
knew what they were saying. He 
wished he knew what was going to 
happen. 

He went on into the library and 
pulled out a book at random and 
sat down and started turning the 
pages. He couldn't read. He kept 
waiting for them to come in, for 
one of them to lay a hand on his 
shoulder and tell him to come 
along, that they knew he had found 
other people like himself and that 
he was a danger to their race and 
that they were going to lock him 
up somewhere. 

What would happen to Lisa? 
They'd find her, of course. She 
could never escape alone, on foot, 
to the hills. 

What had happened to Mag and 
Nell? 

No one came. He knew that their 
perceptions lay all around him, but 
he could sense no emotions, no 
thoughts but his own. 

He sat and waited, his eyes 
focused on the book but not seeing 
it. It seemed hours before anyone 
came. Then Prior and Abbot and 
Walden were in the archway, look- 



72 



MARI WOLF 



ing across at hirn. Prior's face was 
still worried. Abbot's stern, Wal- 
den's reassuring . . . 

Eric forced himself to smile at 
them and then turn another page 
and pretend to go on reading. After 
a moment he heard their footsteps 
retreating, and when he looked up 
again they were gone. 

He sat a while longer and then 
he got up and walked down the 
ramp and stood for a few minutes 
looking at the ship, because that 
too would be expected of him. He 
felt nothing. The ship was a world 
away now, mocking him, for his 
future no longer lay in the past, 
with the old race, but out in the 
hills. If he had a future at all . . . 

He went up the ramp again, 
toward his own room. No one else 
was in sight. They had all gone to 
bed, perhaps. They wouldn't expect 
him to try to run away now. 

He began to walk, as aimlessly as 
he could, in the direction of the 
aircar. He saw no one. Perhaps it 
wasn't even guarded. He circled 
around it, still seeing no one ; then, 
feeling more secure suddenly, he 
went directly toward it and reached 
up to open the panel and climb in. 

"Is that you, Eric?" 

Walden's voice. Quiet as always. 
And it came from inside the car. 



ERIC STOOD frozen, looking 
up at the ship, trying to see 
Walden's face and unable to find 
it in the darkness. He didn't answer 
— couldn't answer. He listened, and 
heard nothing except Walden, there 
above him, moving on the seat. 
Where was Lisa? 
"I thought you'd come back 



here," Walden said. He climbed 
down out of the aircar and stood 
facing Eric, his body a dim shadow. 

"Why are you here?" Eric whis- 
pered, 

"I wanted to see you. Without 
the others knowing it. I was sure 
you'd come here tonight." 

Walden. Always Walden. First 
his teacher and then his friend, and 
now the one man who stood be- 
tween him and freedom. For a 
second Eric felt his muscles tense 
and he stiffened, ready to leap upon 
the older man and knock him down 
and take the ship and run. Then 
he relaxed. It was a senseless im- 
pulse, primitive and useless. 

"The others don't know you have 
any idea what's happened, Eric. 
But I could tell. It was written all 
over you." 

"What did they find, Walden?" 

The old man sighed, and when 
he spoke his voice was very tired. 
"They found two women. They 
tried to capture them, but the 
women ran out on a ledge. The 
older one slipped and fell and the 
other tried to catch her and she fell 
too. They were dead when the men 
reached them." 

Eric listened, and slowly his ten- 
sion relaxed, replaced by a dull ache 
of mourning. But he knew that he 
was glad to hear that they were 
dead and not captured, not dragged 
away from the hills to be bathed 
and well fed and imprisoned for- 
ever under the eyes of the new race. 

"The old one was blind," Walden 
said. "It may have been her blind- 
ness that caused her to fall." 

"It wasn't." 

"No, Eric, it probably wasn't.** 

They were silent for a moment, 



HOMO INFERIOR 



73 



and there was no sound at all ex- 
cept for their own breathing. Eric 
wondered if Lisa still hid in the 
aircar, if she was listening to them, 
afraid and hopeless and crying over 
the death of her people. 

"Whv did you come out here, 
Walden'?" 

"To see you. I came today, when 
I realized how suspicious the coun- 
cil had grown. I was going to warn 
you, to tell you to keep away from 
the hills, that they wanted an ex- 
cuse to lock you up. I was too late." 

"I was careless, Walden." He felt 
guilt twist inside of him. 

"No. You didn't know the dan- 
ger. I should have warned you 
sooner. But I never dreamed you 
would find anyone in the hills, Eric. 
I never dreamed there were any 
more without perception, this gen- 
eration." 

Eric moved nearer the car and 
leaned against it, the cold plastic 
next to his body cooling him a little, 
steadying him against the feverish 
trembling that shook his legs and 
sent sweat down over him and made 
him too weak, suddenly, to want 
to struggle further. 

"Let me go, Walden. Let me take 
the car and go." 

Walden didn't move. He stood 
quietly, a tall thin shape in the 
darkness. 

"There are other people the 
searchers didn't find, aren't there? 
And you're going to them.*' 

Eric didn't answer. He looked 
past Walden, at the car, wishing 
he could somehow call to Lisa, 
wishing they could perceive so that 
he could reassure her and promise 
her that somehow he'd still take 
her to freedom. But it would be an 



empty promise . . . 

"I've warned you too late. You've 
found your people, but it won't do 
you any good. They'll hunt you 
through the hills, and I won't be 
able to help you any more." 

Eric looked back at him, hearing 
the sadness in his voice. It was real 
sadness, real emotion. He thought 
of the years he had spent with Wal- 
den, learning, absorbing the old 
race knowledge, and he remem- 
bered that all through those years 
Walden had never once made him 
feel uncomfortable because of the 
difference between them. 

He looked at the old man for a 
long time, wishing that it was day 
so he could read the other's expres- 
sion, wondering how he had man- 
aged to take this man for granted 
for so long. 

"Why?" he whispered. "Why are 
you helping me? Why aren't you 
like the others?" 

"I never had a son, Eric. Perhaps 
that's the reason." 

Eric thought of Myron and shook 
his head. "No, it isn't that. My 
father doesn't feel the way you do. 
He can't forget that I'm not nor- 
mal. With him, I'm always aware 
of the difference." 

"And you're not with me?" 

"No," Eric said. "I'm not. Why?" 
And he wondered why he had never 
asked that question before. 

"The final question," Walden 
said softly. "I wondered how long 
it would be before you asked it. I 
wondered if you'd ever ask it. 

"Haven't you ever thought about 
why I never married, Eric? Haven't 
you ever asked yourself why I alone 
learned to read, and collected books, 
and studied the old race?'* 



74 



MARI WOLF 



"No," Eric admitted. "I just ac- 
cepted you." 

"Even though I can perceive and 
you can't." Walden paused and 
Eric waited, not Knowing what was 
coming and yet sure that nothing 
could surprise him now. 

"My father was normal," Walden 
said slowly. "But I never saw him. 
My mother was like you. So was 
my brother. We lived in the hills 
and I was the only one who could 
perceive. I learned what it was to 
be different." 

Eric stared . He couldn't stop 
staring. And yet he should have 
realized, long ago, that Walden was 
different too, in his own way. 



TALDEN SMILED back, his 
face, shadowed in moonlight, 
as quiet and as understanding as 
ever. For a moment neither spoke, 
and there was only the faraway 
sound of crickets chirping and the 
rustling of the wind in the gardens. 

And then, from within the air- 
car, there was a different rustling, 
that of a person moving. 

"Lisa!" 

Eric pushed the compartment 
panel back. The soft light came on 
automatically, framing her where 
she curled against the far wall. 

"You heard us?" 

She nodded. Tears had dried on 
her cheeks. Her eyes were huge in 
her thin face. 

"We'd better go, Lisa." 

He reached in to help her out. 

They didn't see the aircar drop- 
ping in for a landing until it was 
almost upon them, until its lights 
arced down over the museum walls. 

"Hide, Eric. In here — " Lisa 



pulled him forward. 

Behind them, Walden's voice, 
suddenly tired in the darkness. "It's 
too late. They know I'm here. And 
they're wondering why." 

The three of them stood frozen, 
watching each other, while the dark 
shape of the car settled to the 
ground some thirty yards away. 

"It's Abbot," Walden said. He 
paused, intent for a moment, and 
added, "He doesn't know about 
you. Get out of sight somewhere, 
both of you, away from here — " 

"Come on, Lisa — " Eric swung 
away from the car, toward the shel- 
ter of the building and whatever 
hiding place there might be. 
"Hurry!" 

They ran, and the museum rose 
in front of them, and the door was 
open. They were through it and 
into the dim corridor, and there was 
no one around ; Walden's figure 
was lost in the night outside. Be- 
yond the libraries the great ramp 
spiraled downward. 

"This way, Lisa!" 

They came out into the bottom 
of the well and there in front of 
them the starship rested. Still reach- 
ing upward. Still waiting, as it had 
waited for so many uncounted 
years. 

Their ship — if only it could be 
their ship . . . 

"Oh, Eric!" 

Side by side they stood staring at 
it, and Eric wished that they could 
get into it and go, right now, while 
they were still free and there was 
no one to stop them. But they 
couldn't. There was no food in the 
ship, no plant tanks, none of the 
many provisions the books listed. 

Besides, if they took off now they 



HOMO INFERIOR 



75 



would destroy the museum and all 
the people in it, and probably kill 
themselves as well. 

"Eric! We know you're down 
there!" It wasn't Walden's voice. 
- Lisa moved closer. Eric put his 
arm around her and held her while 
footsteps hurried toward them 
down the ramp. The council. Abbot 
and Drew and the others. Prior, 
shaking his head. Walden. 

"Let us go," Eric cried. "Why 
won't you let us go?" 

Walden turned to fhe others. His 
eyes pleaded with them. His lips 
moved and his hands were expres- 
sive, gesturing. But the others stood 
without moving, without expres- 
sion. 

Then Abbot pushed Walden 
aside and started forward, his face 
hard and determined and un- 
changeable. 

"You won't let us go," Eric said. 

"No. You're fools, both of you." 

There was one answer, only one 
answer, and with it, a hot violence 
in his blood as the old race pattern 
came into focus, as die fear and the 
futility fell away. 

It was only a few steps to the ship. 
Eric caught Lisa's arm and pulled 
her after him and ran toward it, 
reaching up to the door. In one 
motion he flung it open and lifted 
her through it, then he swung about 
to face the others. 

"Let us go!" he shouted. "Prom- 
ise to let us go, or we'll take off 
anyway and if we die at least you'll 
die too!" 

Abbot stopped. He looked back 
at Walden, his face scornful. "You 
see?" he said aloud. "They're mad. 
And you let this happen." 

He turned away, dismissing Wal- 



den, and came toward the ship. The 
others followed him. 

Eric waited. He stood with his 
back to the door, waiting, as Abbot 
strode toward him, ahead of the 
other councilmen, alone and unpro- 
tected. 

"You're the fool!" Eric said. He 
laughed as he leaped forward. 

Abbot's eyes went wide suddenly; 
he tried to dodge, gave a little 
grunt, and went limp in Eric's 
grasp. 

Eric laughed again, swung Abbot 
into the ship and leaped in himself. 
The old race and its violence had 
never been nearer. 

He slammed the door shut, bolted 
it, and turned back to where the 
councilman was struggling to his 
feet. 

"Now will you let us go?" Eric 
said softly. "Or must we take ofi* 
now, with you — for the stars?" 

For a long moment Abbot looked 
at him, and then his lips trembled 
and his whole body went slack in 
defeat. 

"The ship is yours," he whis- 
pered. "Just let me go." 

Outside the ship, Walden 
chuckled wryly. 



THE VACUUM SUIT was 
strange against Eric's body, as 
strange as the straps that bound 
him to the couch. He looked over at 
Lisa and she too was unrecogniz- 
able, a great bloated slug tied down 
beside him. Only her face, fright- 
ened behind the helmet, looked, hu- 
man. 

He reached for the controls, then 
paused, glancing down through the 
view screens at the ground, at the 



76 



MARI WOLF 



people two hundred feet below, tiny 
ants scurrying away from the ship. 
running to shelter but still looking 
up at him. He couldn't see his 
parents or Walden. 

His fingers closed about the con- 
trol lever but still he stared down. 
Everything that had been familiar 
all his life stood out sharply now, 
because he was leaving and it would 
never be there again for him. And 
he had to remember what it was 
like . . . 

Then he looked up. The sky was 
blue and cloudless above him, and 
there were no stars at all. But he 
knew that beyond the sky the stars 
were shining. 

And perhaps, somewhere amid 
the stars, the old race waited. 

He turned to Lisa. "This may be 
goodbye, darling." 

"It may be. But it doesn't matter, 
really." 

They had each other. It was 
enough. Even though they could 
never be as close to each other as 
the new race was close. They were 
separate, with a gulf always be- 
tween their inmost thoughts, but 
they could bridge that gulf, some- 
times. 

He turned back to the controls 
and his fingers tightened. The last 
line of the poem shouted in his 
mind, and he laughed, for he knew 
finally what the poet had meant, 
what the old race had lived for. We 
have cast off the planets like out- 
grown toys, and now we want the 
stars . . . 

He pulled the lever back and 
the ship sprang free. A terrible 



weight pressed against him, crush- 
ing him, stifling him. But still he 
Jaughed, because he was one of the 
old race, and he was happy. 

And the meaning of his life lay 
in the search itself. 



THEY STOOD staring up at the 
ship until it was only a tiny 
speck in the sky, and then they 
looked away from it, at each other. 
A wave of perception swept among 
bhem, drawing them closer to each 
other in the face of something they 
couldn't understand. 

"Why did they go?" Abbot asked, 
in his mind. 

"Why did any of the old race 
go?" Walden answered. 

The sunlight flashed off the ship, 
and then it was gone. 

"It's not surprising that the old 
race died," Abbot said. "They were 
brilliant, in their way, and yet they 
did such strange things. Their lives 
seemed so completely meaning- 
less . . ." 

Walden didn't answer for a mo- 
ment. His eyes searched the sky for 
a last glimpse of the ship, but there 
was nothing at all. He sighed, and 
he looked at Abbot, and then past 
him, at all the others. 

"I wonder," he said, "how long 
it will be before some other race says 
the same thing about us." 

No one answered. He turned and 
walked away from them, across the 
trampled flowers, toward the mu- 
seum and the great empty vault 
where the starship had waited for 
so long. 




The trees on Mars are few and 
stunted, says old Doc Yoris. 
There's plenty of gold, of 
course — but trees can be much 
more important! 



TREES 

are where 
you find 



th 



mi 

By Arthur Dekker 
Savage 

Illustrated by Philip Parsons 



YOU MIGHT say the trouble 
started at the Ivy, which is a 
moving picture house in Cave 
Junction built like a big quonset. 
B*S the only show in these parts, 
and most of us old-timers up here 
in the timber country of southwest 
Oregon have got into the habit of 
going to see a picture on Saturday 
nights before wc head for a tavern. 
But I don't think old Doc Yoris, 
who was there with Lew and Rusty 



77 



and me, had been to more than two 
or three shows in his life. Doc is 
kind of sensitive about his appear- 
ance on acount of his small eyes 
and big nose and cars; and since 
gold mining gave way to logging 
and lumber mills, with Outsiders 
drifting into the country, Doc has 
taken to staying on his homestead 
away back up along Deer Creek, 
near the boundary of the Siskiyou 
National Forest. It's gotten so he'll 



78 



ARTHUR DEKKER SAVAGE 



come to Cave Junction only after 
dark, and even then he wears dark 
glasses so strangers won't notice 
him too much. 

I couldn't see" anything funny 
about the picture when Doc started 
laughing, but I figure it's a man's 
own business when he wants to 
laugh, so I didn't say anything. The 
show was one of these scientific 
things, and when Doc began to 
cackle it was showing some men 
getting out of a rocket ship on Mars 
and running over to look at some 
trees. 

Rusty, who's top choker setter in 
our logging outfit, was trying to 
see Doc's point. He can snare logs 
with a hunk of steel cable faster 
than anyone I know, but he's never 
had much schooling. He turned to 
Doc. "I don't get it, Doc," he said. 
"What's the deal?" 

Doc kept chuckling. "It's them 
trees," he said. "There's no trees 
like that on Mars." 

"Oh." said Rusty. 

I suppose it was just chance that 
Burt Holden was sitting behind us 
and heard the talk. Burt is one of 
the newcomers. He'd come down 
from Grants Pass and started a big 
lumber mill and logging outfit, and 
was trying to freeze out the little 
operators. 

He growled something about 
keeping quiet. That got Rusty and 
Lew kind of mad, and Lew turned 
around and looked at Burt. Lew is 
even bigger than Burt, and things 
might have got interesting, but I 
wanted to see the rest of the picture. 
I nudged him and asked him if he 
had a chew. They won't let you 
smoke in the show, but it's okay to 
chew, and most of us were in the 



habit anyway, because there's too 
much danger of forest fire when 
you smoke on the job. 

Doc laughed every time the 
screen showed trees, and I could 
hear Burt humping around in his 
seat like he was irritated. 



HT THE END of the show we 
XI drifted over to the Owl Tavern 
and took a table against the north 
wall, behind the pool tables and 
across from the bar. Doc had put 
his dark glasses back on, and he sat 
facing the wall. 

Not that many people apart from 
the Insiders knew Doc. He hadn't 
been very active since the young 
medical doctor had come to Cave 
Junction in 1948, although he never 
turned down anyone who came for 
help, and as far as I knew he'd 
never lost a patient unless he was 
already dead when Doc got there. 

We were kidding Lew because 
he was still wearing his tin hat and 
caulked boots from work. "You 
figuring on starting early in the 
morning?" I asked him. Rusty and 
Doc laughed. It was a good joke 
because we rode out to the job in 
my jeep, and so we'd naturally get 
there at the same time. 

Then Rusty sat up straighter and 
looked over at the bar. "Hey," 
he said , "Pop' s talking to Burt 
Holden." Pop Johnson owns our 
outfit. He's one of the small opera- 
tors that guys like Burt are trying 
to squeeze out. 

"Hope he don't try to rook Pop 
into no deals," said Lew. 

Doc tipped up his bottle of beer. 
In Oregon they don't sell anything 
but beer in the taverns. "Times 



TREES ARE WHERE YOU FIND THEM 



79 



change," he said. "Back in 1900 all 
they wanted was gold. Now they're 
trying to take all the trees." 

"It's the big operators like Burt," 
I said- "Little guys like Pop can't 
cut 'em as fast as they grow. The 
companies don't have to reseed, 
either, except on National Forest 
land." 

"That Burt Holden was up to my 
place couple weeks ago," said Doc. 
"Darn near caught me skinning out 
a deer." 

"He better not yap to the game 
warden," said Rusty. "Them laws 
is for sports and Outsiders, not us 
guys who need the meat." 

"He wanted to buy all my tim- 
ber," said Doc. "Offered me ten 
dollars a thousand board feet, on 
the stump." 

"Don't sell," I advised him. "If 
Burt offers that much, almost any- 
one else will pay twelve." 

Doc looked at me. "I'd never 
sell my trees. Not at any price. I 
got a hundred and sixty acres of 
virgin stand, and that's the way it's 
gonna stay. I cut up the windfalls 
and snags for firewood, and that's 
all." 

"Here comes Pop," said Lew. 

Pop sat down with us and had 
a beer. He looked worried. We 
didn't ask him any questions, be- 
cause we figure a man will talk if 
he wants to, and if he doesn't it's 
lis own business. 

He finally unlimbered. "Burt 
iolden wants to buy the mill," he 
aid, wiping his mouth, on the back 
of his hand. 

"Buy your mill?" said Lew. 
"Hell, his mill is five times as big, 
and he's even got a burner to take 
care of slashings, so he don't have 



to shut down in the fire season." 

"He just wants the land," said 
Pop, "because it's near the highway. 
He wants to tear down my setup 
and build a pulp mill." 

"A pulp mill!" If we could have 
seen Doc's eyes through the glasses 
I imagine they'd have been popped 
open a full half inch. "Why, then 
they'll be cutting down everything 
but the brush!" 

Pop nodded. "Yeah. Size of a 
log don't matter when you make 
paper — just so it's wood." 

It seemed as though Doc was 
talking to himself. "They'll strip 
the land down bare," he mumbled. 
"And the hills will wash away, and 
the chemicals they use in the mill 
will kill the fish in the creeks and 
the Illinois River." 

"That's why they won't let any- 
one start a pulp mill near Grants 
Pass," said Pop. "Most of the 
town's money comes from sports 
who come up to the Rogue River 
to fish." 

Rusty set his jaw. "In the winter 
we need them fish," he said. He 
was right, too. The woods close 
down in the winter, on account of 
the snow, and if a man can't hunt 
and fish he's liable to get kind of 
hungry. That rocking chair money 
doesn't stretch very far. 

"I ain't gonna sell," said Pop. 
"But that won't stop Burt Holden, 
and any place he builds the mill 
around here will drain into the 
Illinois." 

Doc pushed back his chair and 
stood up to his full height of five 
foot four. "I'm gonna talk to Burt 
Holden," he said. 

Rusty stood up to his six foot 
three. "I'll bring him over here, 



80 



ARTHUR DEKKER SAVAGE 



Doc," he said. "We're handy to the 
cue rack here, and Lew and Sim- 
mons can keep them guys he's with 
off my back." 

I stood up and shoved Rusty 
back down. I'm no taller than he is, 
but I outweigh him about twenty 
pounds. I started working in the 
woods when we still felled trees 
with axes and misery whips — cross- 
cut saws to the Outsiders. "I'll go 
get him," I said. "You're still mad 
about the show, and you wouldn't 
be able to get him this far without 
mussing him up." 

"There won't be no trouble," 
said Doc. "I just want to make him 
an offer." 



I WENT over and told Burt that 
Doc wanted to talk to him. The 
three guys with him followed us 
back to the table. 

Burt figured he knew what it 
was all about, and he just stood 
over Doc and looked down on him. 
"If it's about your timber, Yoris," 
he said, "I'll take it, but I can't 
pay you more than nine dollars 
now. Lumber's coming down, and 
I'm taking a chance even at that." 
He rocked back and forth on his 
heels and looked at Pop as though 
daring him to say different. 

"I still don't want to sell, Mr. 
Holden," said Doc. "But I've got 
better than three million feet on my 
place, and I'll give it to you if you 
won't put a pulp mill anywhere in 
the Illinois Valley." 

We were all floored at that, but 
Burt recovered first. He gave a 
nasty laugh. "Not interested, Yoris. 
If you want to sell, look me up." 

"Wait!" said Doc. "A pulp mill 



will take every tree In the Valley. 
In a few years — " 

"It'll make money, too," said 
Burt flatly. 

"Money ain't everything by a 
long shot. It won't buy trees and 
creeks and rain." 

"It'll buy trees to make lumber." 
Burt was getting mad. "I don't 
want any opposition from you, 
Yoris. I've had enough trouble 
from people who try to hold back 
progress. If you don't like the way 
we run things here, you can — hell, 
you can go back to Mars!" 

It seemed to me that it was just 
about time to start in. I could have 
taken Burt easiest, but I knew 
Rusty would probably swing on him 
first and get in my way, so I planned 
to work on the two guys on Burt's 
right, leaving the one on his left 
for Lew. I didn't want Pop to get 
tangled up in it. 

I don't generally wait too long 
after I make up my mind, but then 
I noticed Rusty reaching out slow- 
ly for a cue stick, and I thought 
maybe I'd better take Burt first, 
while Rusty got set. I never did 
see a guy so one way about having 
something in his hands. 

But Doc didn't drop out. "There 
ain't nothing but a few scrub trees 
on Mars," he said to Burt, looking 
him square in the eye, "And no 
creeks and no rain." 

Burt curled his lip sarcastically. 
"The hell you say! Is that why you 
didn't like it there?" You could see 
he was just trying to egg Doc into 
saying he'd come from Mars, so he 
could give him the horse laugh. 
The guys he was with were getting 
set for a fracas, but they were wait- 
ing for Burt to lead off. 



TREES ARE WHERE YOU FIND THEM 



81 



Doc didn't get caught. "But 
there's gold," he said, like he hadn't 
heard Burt at all. "Tons of it — lay- 
ing all over the ground." 

I guess Burt decided to ride 
along. "Okay, Yoris," he said. "Tell 
you what I'll do. For only one ton 
of Martian gold I'll agree to drop 
all plans for a pulp mill, here or 
anywhere else. In fact, I'll get out 
of business altogether." 

Doc moved in like a log falling 
out of the loading tongs. "That's a 
deal," he said. "You ready to go?" 

Burt started to look disgusted, 
then he smiled. "Sure. Mars must 
be quite a place if you came from 
there." 

"Okay," said Doc. "You just 
stand up against the wall, Mr. 



Holden." Burt's smile faded. He 
figured Doc was trying to maneuver 
him into a likely position for us. 
But Doc cleared that up quick. 
"You boys get up and stand aside," 
he ordered. "Get back a ways and 
give Mr. Holden plenty of room." 
We didn't like it, but we cleared 
out from around the table. A bunch 
from the bar and pool tables, sens- 
ing something was up, came drift- 
ing over to watch. I could feel ten- 
sion building up. "Now," said Doc, 
pointing, "you just stand right over 
there, Mr. Holden, and fold your 
arms." 

Burt didn't like the audience, and 
I guess he figured his plans were 
backfiring when Doc didn't bluff. 
"You hill-happy old coot," he 




"It's probably ridiculous, but they ap- 
pear to be some sort of parking meters." 



82 



ARTHUR DEKKER SAVAGE 



snarled. "You'd better go home 
and sleep it off!" I grabbed hold 
of Lew's arm and shook my head at 
Rusty. I wasn't going to interfere 
with Doc now. 

"You're not scared, are you, Mr. 
Holden?" said Doc quietly. "Just 
you stand against the wall and take 
it easy. It won't hurt a bit." 



BURT HOLDEN was plenty 
tough for an Outsider, and a 
hard-headed businessman to boot, 
but he'd never run into a customer 
like Doc before. You could see him 
trying to make up his mind on how 
to handle this thing. He glanced 
around quick at the crowd, and I 
could tell he decided to play it out 
to where Doc would have to draw 
in his horns, He actually grinned, 
for the effect it would have on 
everybody watching. "All right, 
Yoris," he said. He backed against 
the wall and folded his arms. "But 
hadn't you better stand up here 
with me?" 

"I ain't going," said Doc. "I 
don't like Mars. But you won't 
have no trouble getting your gold. 
There's nuggets the size of your 
fist laying all over the dry river 
beds." 

"I hate to be nosey," said Burt, 
playing to the crowd, "but how are 
you going to get me there?" 

"With his head, o'course!" blurt- 
ed Rusty before I could stop him. 
"Just like he cures you when you're 
sick!" Doc had pulled Rusty 
through two or three bad kid sick- 
nesses — and a lot of the rest of us, 



"Yep," said Doc. "A man don't 
need one of them rocket things to 
get between here and Mars. Fact 
is, I never seen one." 

Burt looked at the ceiling like he 
was a martyr, then back at Doc. 
"Well, Yoris," he said in a tone 
that meant he was just about 
through humoring him, "I'm wait- 
ing. Can you send me there or can't 
you?" The start of a nasty smile 
was beginning to show at the 
corners of his mouth. 

"Sure," said Doc. He slumped 
down in his chair and cupped his 
hands lightly around his dark 
glasses. I noticed his fingers trem- 
bling a little against his forehead. 

The lights dimmed, flickered and 
want out, and we waited for the 
bartender to put in a new fuse. The 
power around here doesn't go hay- 
wire except in the winter, when 
trees fall across the lines. A small 
fight started over in a corner. 

When the lights came back on, 
Doc and Pop started for the door, 
and Lew and Rusty and I followed. 
Burt's buddies were looking kind of 
puzzled, and a few old-timers were 
moving over to watch the fight. 
The rest were heading back to the 
bar. 

Rusty piled into the jeep with 
Doc and me. "When you going to 
bring him back, Doc?' 1 he asked 
when we started moving. 

"Dunno," said Doc. He took off 
his glasses to watch me shift gears. 
He's been after me for a long time 
to teach him how to drive. "It only 
works on a man once." 




Daylight sometimes hides secrets that darkness 
will reveal — the Martian's glowing eyes, for in- 
stance. But darkness has other dangers . . . 



THE EYES HAVE IT 

By James McKimmey, Jr. 

Illustrated by Paul Orban 



JOSEPH HEIDE1, looked slow- 
ly around the dinner table at 
the five men, hiding his examina- 
tion by a thin screen of smoke from 
his cigar. He was a large man with 
thick blond-gray hair cut close to 



83 



his head. In three more months he 
would be fifty-two, but his face and 
body had the vital look of a man 
fifteen years younger. He was the 
President of the Superior Council, 
and he had been in that post — the 



84 

highest post on the occupied planet 
of Mars — four of the six years he 
had lived here. As his eyes flicked 
from one face to another his fingers 
unconsciously tapped the table, 
making a sound like a miniature 
drum roll. 

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. 
Five top officials, selected, tested, 
screened on Eardi to form the 
nucleus of governmental rule on 
Mars. 

Heidel's bright narrow eyes 
flicked j his fingers drummed. 
Which one? Who was the imposter, 
the ringer? Who was the Martian? 

Sadler's dry voice cut through the 
silence: "This is not just an ordi- 
nary meeting then, Mr. President?" 

Heidel's cigar came up and was 
clamped between his teeth. He 
stared into Sadler's eyes. "No, Sad- 
ler, it isn't. This is a very special 
meeting." He grinned around the 
cigar. "This is where we take 
the clothes off the sheep and find 
the wolf." 

Heidel watched the five faces. 
Sadler, Meehan, Locke, Forbes, 
Clarke. One of them. Which one? 

"I'm a little thick tonight," said 
Harry Locke. "I didn't follow what 
you meant." 

"No, no, of course not," Heidel 
said, still grinning. "I'll explain it." 
He could feel himself alive at that 
moment, every nerve singing, every 
muscle toned. His brain was quick 
and his tongue rolled the words out 
smoothly. This was the kind of 
situation Heidel handled best. A 
tense, dramatic situation, full of at- 
mosphere and suspense. 

"Here it is," Heidel continued, 
"simply and briefly." He touched 
the cigar against an ash tray, watch- 



JAMES McKIMMEY, Jr. 

ing with slitted shining eyes while 
the ashes spilled away from the 
glowing tip. He bent forward sud- 
denly. "We have an imposter 
among us, gentlemen. A spy." 

He waited, holding himself tense 
against the table, letting the sting 
of his words have their effect. Then 
he leaned back, carefully. "And to- 
night I am going to expose this im- 
poster. Right here, at this table." 
He searched the faces again, look- 
ing for a tell-tale twitch of a mus- 
cle, a movement of a hand, a shad- 
ing in the look of an eye. 

There were only Sadler, Meehan, 
Locke, Forbes, Clarke, looking like 
themselves, quizzical, polite, re- 
specting. 

"One of us, you say," Clarke said 
noncommittal ly, his phrase neither 
a question nor a positive statement. 

"That is true," said Heidel. 

"Bit of a situation at that," said 
Forbes, letting a faint smile touch 
his lips. 

"Understatement. Forbes," Hei- 
del said. "Understatement." 

"Didn't mean to sound capri- 
cious," Forbes said, his smile gone. 

"Of course not," Heidel said. 

Edward Clarke cleared his 
throat. "May I ask, sir, how this 
was discovered and how it was nar- 
rowed down to the Superior Coun- 
cil?" 

"Surely," Heidel said crisply. 
"No need to go into the troubles 
we've been having. You know all 
about that. But how these troubles 
originated is the important thing. 
Do you remember die missionary 
affair?" 

"When we were going to convert 
the Eastern industrial section? ,: 

"That's right," Heidel said, re- 



THE EYES HAVE IT 



85 



membering. "Horrible massacre." 

"Bloody," agreed John Meehan. 

"Sixty-seven missionaries lost," 
Heidel said. 

"I remember the Martian note 
of apology," Forbes said. " 'We 
have worshipped our own God for 
two-hundred thousand years. We 
would prefer to continue. Thank 
you.' Blinking nerve, eh?'' 

"Neither here nor there," Heidel 
said abruptly. "The point is that no 
one knew those sixty-seven men 
were missionaries except myself and 
you five men." 



HEIDEL WATCHED the faces 
in front of him. "One case," 
he said. "Here's another. Do you 
recall when we outlawed the free 
selection system?" 

"Another bloody one," said Sad- 
ler. 

"Forty-eight victims in that 
case," Heidel said. "Forty-eight 
honorable colonists, sanctioned by 
us to legally marry any couple on 
the planet, and sent out over the 
country to abolish the horrible free- 
love situation." 

"Forty-eight justices of the peace 
dead as pickerels," Forbes said. 

"Do you happen to remember 
that note of apology?" Heidel 
asked, a slight edge in his voice. 
He examined Forbes' eyes. 

"Matter of fact, yes," said Forbes, 
returning Heidel's stare steadily. 
" 'You love your way, we'll love 
ours.' Terribly caustic, what?" 

"Terribly," said Heidel. "Al- 
though that too is neither here nor 
there. The point again, no one ex- 
cept the six of us right here knew 
what those forty-eight men were 



sent out to do." 

Heidel straightened in his chair. 
The slow grating voice of Forbes 
had taken some of the sharpness 
out of the situation. He wanted to 
hold their attention minutely, so 
that when he was ready, the dra- 
matics of his action would be tense 
and telling. 

"There is no use," he said, "in 
going into the details of the other 
incidents. You remember them. 
When we tried to install a free 
press, the Sensible Art galleries, I- 
Am-A-Martian Day, wrestling, and 
all the rest." 

"I remember the wrestling busi- 
ness awfully well," said Forbes. 
"Martians drove a wrestler through 
the street in a yellow jetmobile. 
Had flowers around his neck and a 
crown on his head. He was dead, of 
course. Stuffed, I think. . ." 

"All right," snapped Heidel. 
"Each one of our efforts to offer 
these people a chance to benefit 
from our culture was snapped off 
at the bud. And only a leak in the 
Superior Council could have caused 
it. It is a simple matter of deduc- 
tion. There is one of us, here to- 
night, who is responsible. And I am 
going to expose him." Heidel's 
voice was a low vibrant sound that 
echoed in the large dining room. 

The five men waited. Forbes, his 
long arms crossed. Sadler, his eyes 
on his fingernails. Meehan, blink- 
ing placidly. Clarke, twirling his 
thumbs. Locke, examining his ciga- 
rette. 

"Kessit!" Heidel called. 

A gray-haired man in a black 
butler's coat appeared. 

"We'll have our wine now," 
Heidel said. There was a slight 



86 



JAMES McKIMMEY, Jr. 



quirk in his mouth, so that his teeth 
showed between his lips, The butler 
moved methodically from place to 
place, pouring wine from a silver 
decanter. 

"Now then, Kessit," Heidel said, 
when the butler had finished, 
"would you be kind enough to fetch 
me that little pistol from the man- 
tel over there?" He smiled out- 
wardly this time. The situation was 
right again; he was handling things, 
inch by inch, widiout interruption. 

He took the gun from the old 
man's hands and said, "One thing 
more, Kessit. Would you please 
light the candles on the table and 
turn out the rest of the lights in 
the room. I've always been a ro- 
manticist," Heidel said, smiling 
around the table. "Candlelight with 
my wine." 

"Oh, excellent," said Locke so- 
berly. 

"Quite,*' said Forbes. 

Heidel nodded and waited 
while the butler lit the candles and 
snapped off the overhead lights. 
The yellow flames wavered on the 
table as the door closed gently be- 
hind the butler. 

"Now, then," Heidel said, feeling 
the tingling in his nerves. "This, 
gentlemen, is a replica of an an- 
tique of the twentieth century. A 
working replica, I might add. It 
was called a P-38, if my memory 
serves me." He held the pistol up 
so that the candlelight reflected 
against the glistening black handle 
and the blue barrel. 

There was a polite murmur as 
the five men stretched forward to 
look at the gun in Heidel's hands. 

"Crude," Sadler said. 

"But devilish looking," Forbes 



added. 

"My hobby," Heidel said. "I 
would like to add that not only do 
I collect these small arms, but I am 
very adept at using them. Some- 
thing I will demonstrate to you 
very shortly," he added, grinning. 

"Say now," nodded Meehan. 

"That should be jolly," Forbes 
said, laughing courteously. 

"I believe it will at that," Heidel 
said. "Now if you will notice, gen- 
tlemen," he said touching the clip 
ejector of the pistol and watching 
the black magazine slip out into his 
other hand, "I have but five car- 
tridges in the clip. Just five. You 
see?" 

They all bent forward, blinking. 

"Good," said Heidel, shoving the 
clip back into the grip of the gun. 
He couldn't keep his lips from curl- 
ing in his excitement, but his hands 
were as steady as though his nerves 
had turned to ice. 

The five men leaned back in 
their chairs. 

"Now then, Meehan," he said to 
the man at the opposite end of the 
table. "Would you mind moving 
over to your left, so that the end of 
the table is clear?" 

"Oh?" said Meehan. "Yes, of 
course." He grinned at the others, 
and there was a ripple of amuse- 
ment as Meehan slid his chair to 
the left. 

"Yes," said Heidel. "All pretty 
foolish-looking, perhaps. But it 
won't be in a few minutes when I 
discover the bastard of a Martian 
who's in this group, I'll tell you 
that!" His voice rose and rang in 
the room, and he brought the glis- 
tening pistol down with a crack 
against the table. 



THE EYES HAVE IT 



87 



THERE WAS dead silence and 
Heidel found his smile again. 
"All right, now I'll explain a bit 
further. Before Dr. Kingly, the head 
of our laboratory, died a few days 
ago, he made a very peculiar dis- 
covery. As you know, there has been 
no evidence to indicate that the 
Martian is any different, physically, 
from the Earthman. Not until Dr. 
Kingly made his discovery, that is." 

Heidel looked from face to face. 
"This is how it happened," he went 
on. "Dr. Kingly. . ." 

He paused and glanced about in 
false surprise. "I beg you pardon, 
gentlemen. We might as well be en- 
joying our wine. Excellent port. 
Very old, I believe. Shall we?" he 
asked, raising his glass. 

Five other glasses shimmered in 
the candlelight. 

"Let us, ah, toast success to the 
unvriling of the rotten Martian 
who sits among us, shall we?" 
Heidel's smile glinted and he drank 
a quarter of his glass. 

The 6ve glasses tipped and were 
returned to the table. Again there 
was silence as the men waited. 

"To get back," Heidel said, lis- 
tening with excitement to his own 
voice. "Dr. Kingly, in the process 
of an autopsy on a derelict Martian, 
made a rather startling discov- 
ery. . ." 

"I beg your pardon," Forbes 
said. "Did you say autopsy?" 

"Yes," said Heidel. "We've done 
this frequently. , Not according to 
base orders, you understand." He 
winked. "But a little infraction now 
and then is necessary." 

"I see," said Forbes. "I just didn't 
know about that." 

"No, you didn't, did you?" said 



Heidel, looking at Forbes closely. 
"At any rate, Dr. Kingly had devel- 
oped in his work a preserving 
solution which lie used in such 
instances, thereby prolonging the 
time for examination of the ca- 
daver, without experiencing de- 
terioration of the tissues. This 
solution was merely injected into 
the blood stream, and . . ." 

"Sorry again, sir," Forbes said. 
"But you said blood stream?" 

"Yes," Heidel nodded. "This 
had to be done before the cadaver 
was a cadaver, you see?" 

"I think so, yes," said Forbes, 
leaning back again. "Murdered the 
bastard for an autopsy, what?" 

Heidel's fingers closed around 
the pistol. "I don't like that, 
Forbes." 

"Terribly sorry, sir." 

"To get on," Heidel said finally, 
his voice a cutting sound. "Dr. 
Kingly had injected his solution 
and then. . . Well, at any rate, 
when he returned to his laboratory, 
it was night. His laboratory was 
black as pitch — I'm trying to paint 
the picture for you, gentlemen — 
and the cadaver was stretched out 
on a table, you see. And before Dr. 
Kingly switched on the lights, he 
saw the eyes of this dead Martian 
glowing in the dark like a pair of 
hot coals." 

"Weird." said Sadler, unblinking. 

"Ghostly," said Clarke. 

"The important thing," Heidel 
said curtly, "is that Dr. Kingly 
discovered the difference, then, 
between the Martian and the 
Earthman. The difference is the 
eyes. The solution, you see, had 
reacted chemically to the mem- 
branes of the eyeballs, so that as it 



88 

happened they lit up like electric 
lights. I won't go into what Dr. 
Kingly found further, when he dis- 
sected the eyeballs. Let it suffice to 
say, the Martian eyeball is a physi- 
cal element entirely different from 
our own — at least from those of five 
of us, I should say." 

His grin gleamed. He was work- 
ing this precisely and carefully, and 
it was effective. "Now, however," 
he continued, "it is this sixth man 
who is at issue right now. The fly 
in the soup, shall wc say. And in 
just a few seconds I am going to 
exterminate that fly." 

He picked up the pistol from the 
table. "As I told you, gentlemen, I 
am quite versatile with this weap- 
on. I am a dead shot, in other 
words. And I am going to demon- 
strate it to you." He glanced from 
face to face. 

"You will notice that since Mr. 
Meehan has moved, I have a clear 
field across the table. I don't be- 
lieve a little lead in the woodwork 
will mar the room too much, would 
you say, Forbes?" 

Forbes sat very still. "No, I 
shouldn't think so, sir." 

"Good. Because I am going to 
snuff out each of the four candles 
in the center of this table by shoot- 
ing the wick away. You follow me, 
gentlemen? Locke? Meehan? Sad- 
ler?" 

Heads nodded. 

"Then perhaps you are already 
ahead of me. When the last candle 
is extinguished, we will have dark- 
ness, you see. And then I think we'll 
find our Martian rat. Because, as 
a matter of fact," Heidel lolled his 
words, "I have taken the privilege 
of adding to the wine we have been 



JAMES McKIMMEY, Jr. 

drinking Dr. Kingly's preserving so- 
lution. Non-tasteful, non-harmful. 
Except, that is, to one man in this 
room." 

Heidel motioned his gun. "And 
God rest the bastard's soul, because 
if you will remember, I have five 
bullets in the chamber of this pistol. 
Four for the candles and one for 
the brain of the sonofabitch whose 
eyes light up when the last candle 
goes out." 



THERE WAS a steady deadly 
silence while the flames of the 
candles licked at the still air. 

"I think, however," Heidel said, 
savoring the moment, "that we 
should have one final toast before 
we proceed." He lifted his glass. 
"May the receiver of the fifth bullet 
go straight to hell. I phrase that 
literally, gentlemen," he said, laugh- 
ing. "Drink up!" 

The glasses were drained and 
placed again on the table. 

"Watch carefully," Heidel said 
and lifted the pistol. He aimed at 
the first candle. The trigger was 
taut against his finger, the explo- 
sion loud in the room. 

"One," said Heidel. 

He aimed again. The explosion. 

"Two," he said. "Rather good, 
eh?" 

"Oh, yes," Sadler said. 

"Quite," said Forbes. 

"Again," said Heidel. A third 
shot echoed. 

"Now," he said, pointing the 
muzzle at the last candle. "I would 
say this is it, wouldn't you, gentle- 
men? And as soon as this one goes, 
I'm afraid one of us is going to 
find a bullet right between his god- 



THE EYES HAVE IT 



89 



dam sparkling eyes. Are you 
ready?" 

He squinted one eye and looked 
down the sights. He squeezed the* 
trigger, the room echoed and there 
was blackness. Heidel held his pis- 
tol poised over the table. 

Silence. 

"Well," said Forbes finally. 
"There you have it. Surprise, 
what?" 

Heidel balanced the pistol, feel- 
ing his palm go suddenly moist 
against the black grip, and he 
looked around at the five pairs of 
glowing eyes. 

"Bit of a shock, I should im- 
agine," Forbes said. "Discovering 
all of us, as it were." 

Heidel licked his lips. "How? 
How could you do this?" 

Forbes remained motionless. 
"Simple as one, you know. Put men 
on rockets going back to Earth in 
place of returning colonists. Study. 
Observe. Learn. Shift a record here 
and there. Forge, change pictures, 
all that sort of thing. Poor contact 
between here and Earth, you 
know. Not too difficult." 

"I'll get one of you," Heidel said, 
still balancing his pistol tightly. 

"Well, possibly," Forbes said. 
"But no more than one. You have 
three guns pointed at you. We can 
see you perfectly, you know, as 
though it were broad daylight. One 
shiver of that pistol, and you're 
dead." 

"Why have you done this?" 
Heidel said suddenly. "Why? 



Everything that was done was for 
the Martian. We tried to give you 
freedom and culture, the benefit of 
our knowledge. . ." 

"We didn't like your wrestlers," 
Forbes said. 

Heidel's nostrils twitched, and 
suddenly he swung the pistol. There 
was a crashing explosion and then 
silence. 

"Good," said Forbes. "I don't 
think he got the last one fired." 

"You're all right then?" asked 
Meehan, putting his gun on the 
table. 

"Oh, quite! Rather dramatic al- 
together, eh?" 

"Nerve tingling," Locke agreed. 

Forbes turned in his chair and 
called, "Oh Kessit!" 

The butler opened the door to 
the darkened room, hesitated, and 
reached for the light switch. 

"No, no," Forbes said, smiling. 
"Never mind that. Come over here, 
will you please?" 

The butler crossed the room 
slowly. 

"It's all right," Forbes said. "The 
president will notice nothing what- 
ever, Kessit. Would you mind pour- 
ing us all another glass of wine? 
I'm frightfully crazy about that 
port, eh?" 

There was a murmur of agreeing 
voices. The butler lifted the silver 
decanter and filled glasses, moving 
easily and surely in the darkness. 

"Cheers," said Forbes. 

"Cheers" said the others, over 
the clink of glasses. 



in Science 



He Analyzes the Sunshine 
and Fights Darkness 



HANS ALBRECHT BETHE is 
known, among his colleagues, 
as the man "who discovered what 
makes the sun shine," and he was a 
key figure in the development of the 
atomic bomb. Yet he deplores the 
usual "overemphasis" on compli- 
cated nuclei and on fission, which 
"is, after all, only a very special 
phenomenon in nuclear physics" — 
so much so that he completely 
omitted any mention of it in a 20 
lecture course he gaye at the 
General Electric Laboratories. 

Obviously, Prof. Bethe has 
thought long and deeply on the im- 
plications of his work, and helps 
greatly to discredit the common 
description of research scientists as 
"cold-blooded." After the last war, 
he became a member of the nine- 
man Emergency Committee of 
Atomic Scientists, headed by Al- 
bert Einstein, to educate the public 
to the essential facts in this field. 
When the possibility of the hydro- 
gen bomb became public in 1950, 
he served as spokesman for a group 
of scientists who called themselves 
"worried citizens" and urged the 
United States to resolve never tD use 
the H-bomb first. 




90 



Hans A. Bethe 



His views are perhaps best 
summed up by a quotation from an 
article of his which appeared in the 
April 1950 issue of Scientific Ameri- 
can: "The situation in atomic ener- 
gy has changed, both because of the 
Soviet development of the A-bomb 
and because of our decision on the 
H-bomb. To leave atomic weapons 
uncontrolled would be against the 
best interests of both countries. If 
we can negotiate seriously with the 
U.S.S.R., the scale of the negotia- 
tions should probably be as broad as 
possible. But the situation would be 
greatly eased if we could agree only 
to eliminate the greatest menace to 
civilization, the hydrogen bomb." 

It may appear slightly ironic to 



PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE 



91 



some that the man who wrote those 
words has been called, by Time 
magazine, "one of Nazi Germany's 
greatest gifts to the United States." 
If anything, this is a modest state- 
ment, for the Bethe carbon cycle, a 
series of six linked transformations, 
was the first and only explanation 
of solar and stellar energy which 
met all the known facts. 

Hans Bethe was born in Stras- 
bourg, Alsace-Lorraine, on July 2, 
1906. He was an only child. There 
had been university professors in his 
family for generations; his father, 
Albrecht Theodore Bethe, was 
properly styled Doktor Doktor Pro- 
fessor Bethe, having both his M.D. 
and Ph. D. degrees. 

Hans received his own Ph.D. in 
1928 at the University of Munich. 
For his doctor's thesis, he used the 
new system of quantum mechanics 
to explain the effect of diffraction 
and refraction in crystals. This 
tended to set the scientific world on 
its collective ear, since the system 
had only been presented by its dis- 
coverers, Schrodinger and Heisen- 
berg, in 1926, and very few people 
so much as claimed to understand it 
at the time. 

With this accomplishment behind 
him, Bethe went to Frankfurt as an 
instructor of physics, and took a 
similar post at Stuttgart in 1929. 
From 1930 to 1932 he was a lec- 
turer at the University of Munich. 
During this time he worked under 
Sir Ernest Rutherford at Cam- 
bridge and Enrico Fermi in Rome, 
on a fellowship from the Rockefel- 
ler International Education Board. 
With Fermi, he wrote "Reciprocal 
Action of Two Electrons", which 
was published in 1932. This 



brought him into contact with Niels 
Bohr, "the founder of modern 
atomic theory". 

When Hitler came to power, 
Bethe was assistant professor at the 
University of Tubingen, in addition 
to lecturing at Munich. Since his 
mother was Jewish, he left Ger- 
many and went to England. In 
1933-34, he was at the University of 
Manchester; in 1934-35 at Bristol as 
a fellow. 



HE ARRIVED in the United 
States in 1935, to be an assist- 
ant professor at Cornell. (He has, 
incidentally, been a full professor 
since 1937.) 

Shortly after his arrival, Bethe 
was chosen as one of the assistant 
editors of the American Physical 
Society's journal, to serve a three- 
year term. What amounted to "a 
487-page textbook of nuclear phys- 
ics" — three issues of Reviews of 
Modern Physics devoted almost ex- 
clusively to his writings — has been 
reprinted numerous times. 

Impressive as his work is, a list of 
Bethe's major professional interests 
is perhaps even more so. To quote 
the Professor himself, they are 
"quantum theory of atoms, theory 
of metals, quantum theory of col- 
lisions, theory of atomic nuclei, 
energy production in stars, quan- 
tum electrodynamics, shock wave 
theory and microwaves." One of his 
most important treatises is "Energy 
Production in Stars," the first two 
sections of which were published in 
1938 and won the New York Acad- 
emy of Science's A. Cressy Mor- 
rison Prize. (The third section ap- 
peared four years later.) 



92 



PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE 



Bethe first learned of the impor- 
tance of thermo-nuclear reactions 
in the sun's energy at the 1938 
Washington Conference on Theo- 
retical Physics. As propounded then, 
the problem was: knowing the pro- 
portion (35%) of hydrogen in the 
sun, to determine the other ele- 
ments which would react to account 
for its radiation, size and other 
known characteristics. Bethe started 
considering the problem as soon as 
his train left for the return trip to 
Ithaca and, according to his friend 
George Gamow, "had the answer at 
the very moment when the passing 
dining car steward announced the 
first call for dinner". 

His solution, of course, was the 
six-step reaction cycle in which car- 
bon and nitrogen act as catalysts 
transforming the hydrogen protons 
into one alpha particle. The atomic 
weight lost in this process becomes 
energy in accordance with Ein- 
stein's formula. Bethe was able to 
show that the energy liberation of 
his reaction chain at 20,000,000 de- 
grees centigrade coincides exactly 
with the amount of energy radiated 
by the sun. And speaking of that 
energy, he remarked, "At the rate 
of one cent per kilowatt hour, we 
would have to pay a billion billion 
dollars to keep the sun going for a 

single second." 

These results were reported in the 
spring of 1940, and not satisfied 
with this bit of progress, Bethe also 
made headlines in January of that 
year with the first mathematical 
confirmation that the newly discov- 
ered meson holds matter togctheri 

During the war, Bethe devoted 



himself to work that is still largely 
secret. He had become a natural- 
ized citizen in 1941, and in 1942 
and 1943 was able to work in MIT's 
top secret Radiation Laboratory. 
After that, he became chief of the 
theoretical physics division at Los 
Alamos, a post he held until 1946. 
It was his responsibility to decide 
the critical size of the fissionable 
mass, and what the chances were of 
a chain reaction destroying the 
world. 

After the war, he became a pub- 
lic figure, as already noted. His 
work went on, however. He won his 
second Morrison Prize in 1947, the 
same year he again became a mem- 
ber of the American Physical So- 
ciety's board of editors. In June 
1948 he became a visiting professor 
at Columbia. He remains one of 
the Atomic Energy Commission's 
most valued consultants. 

Personally, his friends describe 
him as a modest man with a famous 
appetite. The tradition of his uni- 
versity professor's lineage has held 
true in his immediate family. His 
wife, the former Rose Ewald, whom 
he married in 1939, is a professor 
of physics at Brooklyn Polytechnic 
Institute, and the daughter of a 
Nazi-exiled German physicist. The 
Bethes have two children. 

Hans Bethe lists skiing, econom- 
ics, and riding on trains as his 
primary diversions, but nothing can 
hold him the way his work does. 
And the difficulty and value of that 
work is not lessened by the fact that 
he does much of it while sitting in 
an easy chair in his living room — 
thinking! 



(».rfhfc< 




The entities were utterly, ambitiously evil; their 
line of defense, apparently, was absolutely im- 
pregnable. 



I' 



You Tomorrow 



By Helen Huber 



Illustrated by Kelly Freas 



IT WAS NOT a sinister silence. 
No silence is sinister until it ac- 
quires a background of understand- 
able menace. Here there was only 
the night quiet of Maternity, the 
silence of noiseless rubber heels on 
the hospital corridor floor, the 
faint brush of starched white 
skirts brushing through doorways 



93 



into darkened and semi-darkened 
rooms. 

But there was something wrong 
with the silence in the "basket 
room" of Maternity, the glass- 
walled room containing row on 
row, the tiny hopes of tomorrow. 
The curtain was drawn across the 
window through which, during 



94 



HELEN HUBER 



visiting hours, peered the proud 
fathers who did the hoping. The 
nightlight was dim. 

The silence should not have been 
there. 

Lorry Kane, standing in the 
doorway, looked out over the rows 
of silent baskets and felt her blonde 
hair tighten at the roots. The tight- 
ening came from instinct, even be- 
fore her brain had a chance to 
function, from the instincts and 
training of a registered nurse. 

Thirty odd babies grouped in 
one room and — complete silence. 

Not a single whimper. Not one 
tiny cry of protest against the an- 
noying phenomenon of birth. 

Thirty babies — dead? That was 
the thought that flashed, unbidden, 
into Lorry's pretty head. The ab- 
surdity of it followed swiftly, and 
Lorry moved on rubber soles be- 
tween a line of baskets. She bent 
down and explored with practiced 
fingers. 

A warm, living bundle in a white 
basket. 

The feeling of relief was gen- 
uine. Relief, even from an ab- 
surdity, is a welcome thing. Lorry 
smiled and bent closer. 

Staring up at Lorry from the 
basket were two clear blue eyes. 
Two eyes, steady and fixed in a 
round baby face. An immobile, 
pink baby face housing two blue 
eyes that stared up into Lorry's 
with a quiet concentration that 
was chilling. 

Lorry said. "What's the matter 
with you?" She spoke in a whisper 
and was addressing herself. She'd 
gone short on sleep lately— the only 
way, really, to get a few hours with 
Pete. Pete was an interne at Gen- 



eral Hospital, and the kind of a 
homely grinning carrot-top a girl 
like Lorry could put into dreams as 
the center of a satisfactory future. 

But all this didn't justify a case 
of jitters in the "basket room.*' 

Lorry said, "Hi, short stuff," and 
lifted Baby Newcomb — Male, out 
of his crib for a cuddling. 

Baby Newcomb didn't object. 
The blue eyes came closer. The 
week-old eyes with the hundred- 
year-old look. Lorry laid the bun- 
dle over her shoulder and smiled 
into the dimness. 

"You want to be president, 
Shorty?" Lorry felt the warmth of 
a new life, felt the little body wrig- 
gle in snug contentment. "I 
wouldn't advise it. Tough job." 
Baby Newcomb twisted in his blan- 
ket, Lorry stiffened. 

Snug contentment? 

Lorry felt two tiny hands clutch 
and dig into her throat. Not just 
pawing baby hands. Little fingers 
that reached and explored for the 
windpipe. 

She uncuddled the soft bundle, 
held it out. There were the eyes. 
She chilled. No imagination here. 
No spectre from lack of sleep. 

Ancient murder-hatred glowing 
in new-born eyes. 



CAREFUL, you fool!. You'll 
drop this body." A thin pip- 
ing voice. A shrill symphony in 
malevolence. 

Fear weakened Lorry. She found 
a chair and sat down. She held the 
boy baby in her hands. Training 
would not allow her to drop Baby 
Newcomb. Even if she had fainted, 
she would not have let go. 



I'LL KILL YOU TOMORROW 



95 



THE shrill voice: "It was stupid 
of me. Very stupid." 

Lorry was cold, sick, mute, 

"Very stupid, These hands are 
too fragile. There are no muscles in 
the arms. I couldn't have killed 
you." 

"Please — I . . ." 

"Dreaming? No. I'm surprised 
at — well, at your surprise. You 
have a trained mind. You should 
have learned, long ago, to trust 
your senses." 

"I don't — understand." 

"Don't look at the doorway. No- 
body's coming in. Look at me. Give 
me a little attention and I'll ex- 
plain." 

"Explain?" Lorry pulled her 
eyes down to the cherubic little 
face as she parroted dully. 

"I'll begin by reminding you that 
there are more things in existence 
than your obscene medical books 
tell you about." 

"Who are you? What are you?" 

"One of those things." 

"You're not a baby!" 

"Of course not. I'm . . ." The 
beastly, brittle voice drifted into si- 
lence as though halted by km in- 
truding thought. Then the thought 
voiced — voiced with a yrarning at 
once pathetic and terrible : "It 
would be nice to kill you. Someday 
I will. Someday I'll kill you if I 
can find you." 

"Why? Why?" Insane words in 
an insane world. But life had not 
stopped even though madness had 
taken over. "Why?" 

The voice was matter-of-fact 
again. No more time for pleasant 
daydreams. "I'm something your 
books didn't tell you about. Nat- 
urally you're bewildered. Did you 



ever hear of a bodyless entity?" 
Lorry shuddered in silence. 
"You've heard of bodyless en- 
tities, of course — but you denied 
their existence in your smug world 
of precise tidy detail. I'm a body- 
less entity. I'm one of a swarm. We 
come from a dimension your mind 
wouldn't accept even if I explained 
it, so I'll save words. We of the 
swarm seek unfoldmcnt — fulfill- 
ment—even as you in your stupid, 
blind world. Do you want to hear 



"You're a fool, but I enjoy prac- 
ticing with these new vocal chords, 
just as I enjoyed flexing the fingers 
and muscles. That's why I re- 
vealed myself, We are, basically of 
course, parasites. In the dimension 
where we exist in profusion, evolu- 
tion has provided for us. There, we 
seek out and move into a dimen- 
sional entity far more intelligent 
than yourself. Wc destroy it in a 
way you wouldn't understand, and 
it is not important that you should. 
In fact, I can't sec what impor- 
tance there is in vour existing at 
all." 

"You plan to — kill all these 
babies?" 

"Let me congratulate you. 
You've finally managed to voice an 
intelligent question. The answer is, 
no. We aren't strong enough to kill 
them. We dwelt in a far more deli- 
cate dimension than this one and 
all was in proportion, That was our 
difficulty when we came here. We 
could find no entities weak enough 
to take possession of until wc came 
upon this roomful of infants." 

"Then, if you're helpless . . ." 

"What do we plan to do? That's 



96 



HELEN HUBER 



quite simple. These material en- 
tities will grow. We will remain at- 
tached — ingrained, so to speak. 
When the bodies enlarge sufficient- 

"Thirty potential assassins . . . 
Lorry spoke again to herself, then 
hurled the words back into her own 
mind as her sickness deepened. 

The shrill chirping: "What do 
you mean, potential ? The word 
expresses a doubt. Here -there 
is none." The entity's chuckle 
sounded like a baby, content over 
a full bottle. 'Thirty certain assas- 
sins." 

"But why must you kill?" 

Lorry was sure the tiny shoulders 
shrugged. "Why? I don't know. 1 
never thought to wonder. Why 
must you join with a man and prop- 
agate some day? Why do you feel 
sorry for what you term an unfor- 
tunate? Explain your instincts and 
I'll explain mine." 

Lorry felt herself rising. Stiffly, 
she put Baby Newcomb back into 
his basket. As she did so, a ripple 
of shrill, jerky laughter crackled 
through the room. Lorry put her 
hands to her ears. "You know 1 
can't say anything, You'd keep 
quiet. They'd call me mad.*' 

"Precisely." 

Malicious laughter, like driven 
sleety cut into her ears as she fled 
from the room. 



PETER LARGHMONT, M. D., 
was smoking a quick cigarette by 
an open fire-escape door on the 
third floor. He turned as Lorry 
came down the corridor, flipped 
his cigarette down into the alley 



and grinned. "Women shouldn't 
float on rubber heels," he said. "A 
man should have warning." 

Lorry came close. "Kiss me. Kiss 
me — hard." 

Pete kissed her, then held her 
a,way. "You're trembling. Anticipa- 
tion, Pet?" He looked into her 
face and the grin faded. "Lorry, 
what is it?" 

"Pete — Pete. I'm crazy. I've 
gone mad. Hold me." 

He could have laughed, but he 
had looked closely into her eyes 
and he was a- doctor. He didn't 
laugh. "Tell me. Just stand here. 
I'll hang onto you and you tell 
me." 

"The babies — they've gone mad." 
She clung to him. "Not exactly 
that. Something's taken them over. 
Something terrible. Oh, Pete! No- 
body would believe me." 

"I believe the end result" he 
said, quietly. "That's what I'm for, 
angel. When yon shake like this I'll 
always believe. But I'll have to 
know more. And I'll hunt for an 
answer." 

"There isn't any answer, Pete. I 
know" 

"We'll still look. Tell me more, 
first." 

"There isn't any more." Her 
eyes widened as she stared into his 
with the shock of a new thought. 
"Oh, Lord! One of them talked to 
me, but maybe he— or it — won't 
talk to you. Then you'll never 
know for sure ! You'll think 
I'm . . ." 

"Stop it. Quit predicting what 
I'll do. Let's go to the nursery." 

They went to the nursery and 
stayed there for three-quarters of 



I'LL KILL YOU TOMORROW 



97 



an hour. They left with the tinny 
laughter filling their minds — and 
the last words of the monstrous en- 
tity. 

"We'll say no more, of course. 
Perhaps even this incident has been 
indiscreet. But it's in the form of a 
celebration. Never before has a 
whole swarm gotten through- Only 
a single entity on rare occasions." 

Pete leaned against the corridor 
wall and wiped his face with the 
sleeve of his jacket. "We're the 
only ones who know," he said. 

"Or ever will know." Lorry 
pushed back a lock of his curly 
hair. She wanted to kiss him, but 
this didn't seem to be the place or 
the time. 

"We can never tell anyone." 

"We'd look foolish." 

"We've got a horror on our 
hands and we can't pass it on." 

"What are we going to do?" 
Lorry asked. 

"I don't know. Let's recap a lit- 
tle. Got a cigarette?" 

They went to the fire door and 
dragged long and deep on two 
from Lorry's pack. "They'll be 
quiet from now on. No more talk- 
ing—just baby squalls." 

"And thirty little assassins will 
go intD thirty homes," Lorry said. 
"All dressed in soft pink and blue, 
all filled with hatred. Waiting, bid- 
ing their time, growing more clev- 
er." She shuddered. 

"The electric chair will get them 
all, eventually." 

"But how many will they get in 
the meantime?" 

Pete put his arms around her 
and drew her close and whispered 
into her ear. "There's nothing we 
can do — nothing." 



"We've got to do something." 
Lorry heard again the thin, brittle 
laughter following her, taunting 
her. 

"It was a bad dream. It didn't 
happen. We'll just have to sleep it 
off." 

She put her cheek against his. 
The rising stubble of his beard 
scratched her face. She was grate- 
ful for the rough touch of solid 
reality. 

Pete said. "The shock will wear 
out of our minds. Time will pass. 
After a while, we won't believe it 
ourselves." 

"That's what I'm afraid of." 
"It's got to be that way." 
"We've got to do something." 
Pete lowered his arm wearily. 
"Yeah — we've got to do some- 
thing. Where there's nothing that 
can be done. What are we — mira- 
cle workers?" 

"We've got to do something." 
"Sure — finish out the watch and 
then get some sleep." 



LORRY AWOKE with the low- 
ering sun In her window. It was 
a blood red sun. She picked up the 
phone by her bedside. "Room 307 
Resident's extension." 

Pete answered drowsily. Lorry 
said, "Tell me — did I dream, or 
did it really happen." 

"I was going to ask you the same 
thing. I guess it happened. What 
are you doing?" 

"Lying in bed." 

"So am I. But two different beds. 
Things are done all wrong." 

"Want to take a chance and 
sneak over? I've got an illegal cof- 
fee pot." 



98 



HELEN HUBER 



"Leave the door unlocked." 

Lorry put on the coffee. She 
showered and got into her slip. She 
was brushing her hair when Pete 
came in. He looked at her and ex- 
tended beckoning, clutching fin- 
gers. "The hell with phantoms. 
Come here." 

Alter a couple of minutes. Lorry 
pulled away and poured the coffee. 
She reached for her uniform. Pete 
said, "Don't put it on yet." 

"Too dangerous — leaving it off." 

He eyed her dreamily. "I'll 

dredge up will power. I'll also get 

of fat rich clients. Then we'll 

get married so I can assault you 

regally." 

Lorry studied him. ,l You're not 
even listening to yourself. What is 
it, Pete? What have you dreamed 
up?" 

"Okay. I've got an idea. You 
said something would have to be 
done." 

"What?" 

"A drastic cure for a drastic 
. 11 With maybe disaster as the 
end product." 

"Tell me." 

"I'll tell you a little, but not too 
much." 

"Why not all?" 

"Because if we ever land in 
court, I want you to be able to say 
under oath, 'He didn't tell me what 
he planned to do'." 

"I don't Hke that." 

"I don't care if you like it or not. 
Tell me, what's the one basic thing 
that stands out in your mind about 
i ntities?" 

"That they're..." 

"Fragile?" 

"Yes— fragile." 

"Give me some more coffee." 



LORRY demanded to know what 
was in Pete's mind. All she got 
was kissed, and she did not see 
Pete again until eleven o'clock that 
night. He found her in the corri- 
dor in Maternity and motioned her 
toward the nursery. He carried a 
tray under a white towel. He said, 
"You watch the door. I'm going 
inside. I'll be about a half an 
hour." 

"What are you going to do?" 

"You stay out here and mind 
your business. Your business will 
be to steer any nosey party away. 
If you can't, make noise coming 
in." 

Doc Pete turned away and en- 
tered the nursery. Lorry stood at 
the doorway, in the silence, under 
the brooding night-light, and 
prayed. 

Twenty-five minutes later, Pete 
came out. His face was white and 
drawn. He looked like a man who 
had lately had a preview of Hell's 
inverted pleasures. His hands 
trembled. The towel still covered 
the tray. He said, "Watch them 
close. Don't move ten steps from 
here," He started away — turned 
back. "All hell is scheduled to 
break loose in this hospital shortly. 
Let's hope God remains in charge." 

Lorry saw the sick dread of his 
heart underneath his words. 



IT COULD have been a major 
scandal. An epidemic of measles 
on the maternity floor of a modern 
hospital indicates the unforgivable 
medical sin— carelessness. It was 
hushed up as much as possible, 
pending the time when the top 
people could shake off the shock 



I'LL KILL YOU TOMORROW 



99 



and recover their wits. The ulti- 
mate recovery of thirty babies was 
a tribute to everyone concerned. 

Wan, done-in. Doc Pete drank 
cofFee in Lorry's room. Lorry gave 
him three lumps of sugar and saidj 
"But are you sure the sickness 
killed the entities?" 

"Quite sure. Somehow they 
knew when I made the injections. 
They screamed. They knew they 
were done for." 

"It took courage. Tell me: why 
are you so strong, so brave? Why- 
are you so wonderful?" 

"Cut it out. I was scared stiff. 
If one baby had died, I'd have 
gone through life weighing the cure 
against the end. It isn't easy to risk 
doing murder — however urgent 
the need." 

She leaned across and kissed 



him. "And you were all alone. You 
wouldn't let me help. Was that 
fair?" 

He grinned, then sobered. "But 
I can't help remembering what 
that — that invisible monster said : 
'Never before has a whole swarm 
gotten through. Only a single entity 
on rare occasions.' 

"I can't help wondering what 
happens to those single entities. I 
think of the newspaper headlines 
I've seen: Child Kills Parents in 
Sleep. Youth Slays Father. 1*11 
probably always wonder — and I'll 
always remember . . ." 

Lorry got up and crossed to him 
and put her arms around him. 
"Not always," she whispered. 
"There will be times when I'll 
make you forget. For a little while, 
anyhow." 



VI KE VS. REE — the vicarious versus the real! Evan Hunter, one 
of science fiction's brightest young writers, does a beautiful 
satire on a phase of modern life with which we're all familiar and 
shows in careful, frightening and exciting detail what may happen 
if it continues into the future. The title is Malice in Wonderland, 
and it's another sparkling example of IF's policy of bringing you 
the finest, most original, thought-provoking stories in the field of 
science fiction. But this is just the beginning of an issue packed 
with exceptionally good stories, including Anachron by Damon 
Knight, A Word for Freedom by James E. Gunn, Letter of the 
Law by Alan E. Nourse, and many others. Also in the January 
issue is an exciting new feature designed to bring IF readers into 
closer contact with the remarkable facts of science as well as 
fiction. Don't miss the January IF — at your local newsstand on 
November 11th! 



Here's the behind-the-scenes lowdown on Luna City life and 
a promoter of Martian dancing girls, vaudeville, and — other 
things. But remember: stop usif you've heard this one! 




SHOW BUSINESS 

By Boyd Ellanby 



llluitrated by Mel Hunter 



EXCEPT for old Dworken, 
Kotha's bar was deserted when 
I dropped in shortly after midnight. 
The ship from Earth was still two 
days away, and the Martian flag- 
ship would get in next morning, 
with seven hundred passengers for 
earth on it. Dworken must have 
been waiting in Luna City a whole 
week — at six thousand credits a day. 



100 



That's as steep to me as it is to you, 
but money never seemed to worry 
Dworken. 

He raised the heavy green lids 
from his protruding brown eyes as I 
came in. He waved his tail. 

"Sit down and join me," he in- 
vited, in his gutters! voice. "It is not 
good for a man to drink alone. But 
I haf no combany in dis by-de- 



SHOW BUSINESS 



101 



gods-deserted hole. A man must 
soraet'ing be doing, what?" 

I sat down in the booth across 
from my Venusian friend, and 
stared at him while he punched a 
new order into the drinkboard. 

"For me, another skchikh," he 
announced. "And for you? De 
same?" 

Against my better judgment, for 
I knew I'd have plenty to do han- 
dling that mob of tourists — the first 
crowd of the season is always die 
roughest — tomorrow, I consented. 
Dworken had already consumed six 
of the explosive things, as the empty 
glasses on the table showed, but he 
exhibited no effects. I made a men- 
tal note, as I'd so often done before, 
that this time I would not exceed 
the safe terrestrial limit of two. 

"You must bu in the money 
again, drinking imported shckikh" 
I remarked. "What are you doing 
in Luna City this time?" 

He merely lifted his heavy eyelids 
and stared at me without expres- 
sion. 

"Na, in de money I am not. Dere 
are too many chiselers in business. 
Just when I t'ink I haf a goot t'ing, 
I am shwindeled. It is too bad." He 
snorted through his ugly snout, 
making the Venusian equivalent of 
a sigh. I knew there was a story 
waiting behind that warty skin, but 
I was not sure I wanted to hear it. 
For the next round of drinks would 
be on me, and shchikh was a hun- 
dred and fifty credits a shot. Still, a 
man on a Moon assignment has to 
amuse himself somehow. 

So I said, "What's the latest epi- 
sode in the Dworken soap opera? 
What is the merchandise this time? 
Gems? Pet Mercurian fire-insects? 



A new supply of danghaana?" 

"I do not smuggle drugs, dat is 
a base lie," replied my friend 
stolidly. He knew, of course, that I 
still suspected him to be the source 
of the last load of that potent nar- 
cotic, although I had no more proof 
than did the Planetary Bureau of 
Investigation. 

He took a long pull at his drink 
before he spoke again. "But Dwor- 
ken is never down for long. Dis time 
it is show business. You remember, 
how I haf always been by de t'eater 
so fascinated? Well, I decided to 
open a show here in Luna City. 
T'ink of all the travelers, bored stiff 
by space and de emptiness thereof, 
who pass through here during the 
season. Even if only half of them 
go to my show, it cannot fail." 

I waited for some mention of free 
tickets, but none was made. I was 
about as anxious to see Dwoiken's 
show as I was to walk barefoot 
across the Mare Imbriuni, but I 
asked with what enthusiasm I could 
force, 

"What sort of act are you putting 
on? Girls?" I shuddered as I re- 
called the pathetic shop-worn 
chorus girls that Sam Low had tried 
to pass off last year on the gullible 
tourists of the spaceways. That 
show had lasted ten nights — nine 
more than it deserved to. There are 
limits, even to the gullibility of 
Earth-lubbers. 

"Yes, girls," replied Dworken. 
"But not what you are perhaps 
thinking. Martian girls." 



THIS WAS more interesting. 
Even if the girls were now a 
little too old for the stage in the 



102 



BOYD ELLANBY 



Martian capital, they would still 
get loud cheers on the Moon. I 
knew. I started to say so, but Dwor- 
ken interrupted. 

"And not de miserable girls dey 
buy from de slave traders in Behas- 
tin. Dese girls I collected myself, 
from de country along de Upper 
Canal." 

I repressed my impulse to show 
rny curiosity. It could all be per- 
fectly true — and if it were not the 
opening night would tell. But it 
sounded a lot like one of Dworkcn's 
taller tales. I had never been able to 
disprove any one of them, but I 
found it a little hard to believe that 
so many improbable things had ever 
happened to one man. However, I 
like being entertained, if it doesn't 
cost me too much, so finally I said, 

"I suppose you are going to tell 
me you ventured out into the in- 
terior of Mars, carrying a six weeks' 
supply of water and oxygen on your 
back, and visited the Xo theaters on 
the spot?" 

"How did you know? Dat is just 
what I did," solemnly affirmed my 
companion. He snorted again, and 
looked at his glass. It was empty, 
but he tilted it into his face again 
in an eloquent gesture. No words 
were needed ; I punched the sym- 
bols for shchikh into the drinkboard 
on my side of the table. Then, after 
hesitating, I punched the "two in" 
signal. I must remember, though, 
that this was my second and last. 

His eighth shchikh seemed to in- 
still some animation into Dworken. 
"I know you feel skepticality — I 
mean skepticism — after my exploits. 
You will see tomorrow night dat I 
speak true." 

"Amazing!" I said. "Especially as 



I just happen to remember that 
three different expeditions from 
Earth tried to penetrate more than 
a hundred kilometers from Bchas- 
tin, but either they couldn't carry 
the water and oxygen that far, or 
they resorted to breathing Mars air, 
and never came back. And they 
were earthmen, not Venusians who 
are accustomed to two atmosphcrs 
of carbon dioxide." 

"My vriend, you must not rea- 
son : it was so, it always will be so. 
The brinciple of induction is long 
exbloded. I did indeed breathe 
Mars air. Vait! I tell you how." 

He took another long swig of 
shchikh. "Vat your Ear t' men did 
not realize was dat dey cannot ac- 
climate themselves as do we Venu- 
sians. You know de character of our 
planet made adaptability a condi- 
tion of survival. It is true dat our 
atmosphere is heavy, but on top of 
our so-high mountains de air is 
t'in. We must live everywhere, de 
apace is so few. I first adapted my- 
self on Eart' to live. I was dere a 
whole year, you vill recollect. Den 
I go further. Your engineers con- 
struct air tanks dat make Hke de air 
of mountains, t'in. So, I learn to live 
in dose tanks. Each day I haf spent 
one, two, three hours in dem. I get 
so I can breathe air at one-third 
the pressure of your already t'in 
atmosphere. And at one-sixt' the 
tension of oxygen. No, my vriend, 
you could not do this, Your lungs 
burst. But old Dworken, he has 
done it. 

"I take wit' me only some water, 
for I know de Martians dey not 
give water. To trade, some minia- 
ture kerosene lamps. You know dey 
got no fuel oil now, only atomics, 



SHOW BUSINESS 



103 



but dese little lamps dey like for 
antiques, for sentiment, because 
their great-grandfathers used dem. 

"Well, I walk through Vlahas, 
and not stop. Too close by the capi- 
tal. Too much contact with men of 
odder planets. I walk also through 
Bhur and Zaniat. I come to a small 
place where dey never see foreigner. 
Name Tasaaha. Oh, I tell you, ze 
men of ze odder planets do not 
know Mars. How delightful, how 
unsboiled, are ze Martians, once 
you get away from de people by 
tourists so sboiled! How wonderful, 
across the sands to go, free as birds! 
The so friendly greetings of de Mar- 
tian men. And de Martian women! 
Ah! 

"Well, in Tasaaha I go to t'eater. 
Such lovely girls! You shall see. But 
I saw somet'ing else. That, my 
friend, you hardly believe!" 

Dworken looked down at his 
empty glass and snorted gently. I 
took the hint, although for myself 
I urdercd the less lethal Martian 
azd .am. I was already having diffi- 
culty believing parts of his narra- 
tive; it would be interesting to see 
if the rest were any harder. 

My companion continued. "They 
not only have de chorus, which you 
haf seen on Earth, imported from 
Mars— and such a chorus! Such 
girls! But thuy had somet'ing else." 

"You recall your terrestrial his- 
tory. 1 * Once your ancestors had per- 
formers on the stage who did funny 
motions and said amusing remarks, 
de spectator? to make laugh. I t'ink 
you tailed it 'vaudeville.' Well, on 
Mars they have also vaudeville!" 
He paused, and looked at me from 
under half-shut eyelids, and grinned 
widely to show his reptilian teeth. 



I wondered if he'd really found 
something new. I would even be 
willing to pay for a glimpse of Mar- 
tian vaudeville. I wondered if my 
Martian was too rusty for me to 
understand jokes in the spoken 
lingo. 

"They haf not only men and 
women telling jokes. They haf 
trained animals acting funny!" 
Dworken went on. 

This was too much. "I suppose 
the animals talked, too?" I said 
sarcastically. "Do they speak Earth 
or Martian?" 

He regarded me approvingly. 
"My friend, you catch on quick," 
He raised a paw. "Now, don't at 
conclusions jump. Let me exblain. 
At first, I did not believe it either. 

"Dey sprang it with no warning. 
Onto de stage came a tlooll (you 
know him, I t'ink ) , and a 
shiyooch'iid. The shiyooch'iid was 
riding a bicycle — I mean a mon- 
ocle. One wheel. The tllooll moved 
just as awkward as he always does, 
and tried to ride a tandem four- 
wheeled vehicle which had been es- 
pecially for him made." 

In spite of my resolve, I chuckled. 
The picture of a tllooll trying 
to ride a four-wheeled bicycle, 
pumping each of his eight three- 
jointed legs up and down in turn, 
while maintaining his usual super- 
cilious and indifferent facial expres- 
sion, was irresistibly funny. 

"Wait!" said my friend, and 
again raised a paw, "You have as 
yet not'ing heard. They make jokes 
at same time. De shiyooch'iid asks 
de tllooll, 'Who was dat lloolla I 
saw you wit up the ( anal?' and the 
tllooll replies, 'Dat was no tlloolla, 
dat was my skicai/ " 



104 



BOYD ELLANBY 



1 doubled up, laughing. Unless 
you have visited Mars this may not 
strike you as funny, but I collapsed 
into a heap. I put my head on the 
table and wept with mirth. 

It seemed like five minutes before 
I was able to speak. "Oh, no!" 

"Yes, yes, I tell you. Yes!" in- 
sisted my friend. He even smiled 
himself. 



IF YOU don't know the social 
system of the Martians there 
is no point in my trying to explain 
why the idea of a tllooll's being out 
with that neuter of neuters, a shicat, 
is so devastatingly funny. But that, 
suddenly, was not quite the point. 

Did it happen? I had large 
doubts. Nobody had ever heard a 
tllooll make any sort of a sound, and 
it was generally supposed that they 
had no vocal chords. And no 
shiyooch'iid (they somewhat resem- 
ble a big groundhog, and live in 
burrows along the canals of Mars) 
had ever been heard to make any 
noise except a high-pitched whistle 
when frightened 

"Now, just a minute, Dworken," 
I said. 

"I know, my vriend. I know. You 
t'ink it is impossible. You rink the 
. talking is faked. So I t'ought too. 
But vait," 

It seems Dworken had inquired 
among the audience as to who 
owned the performing animals. The 
local Martians were not as im- 
pressed as he was with the per- 
formance, but they guided him to 
the proprietor of the trained animal 
act. He was a young Martian, 
hawk-nosed, with flashing black 
eyes, dusky skin, and curly hair. 



"So I say to him, dis Martian," 
Dworken continued, " 'If your act 
on the level is, I buy.' I had three 
small diamonds with," he ex- 
plained. 

"But de Martian was hard to deal 
wit'. First, he said he vould no[ sell 
his so-valuable and so-beloved ani- 
mals. De only .talking animals on 
Mars, he said— de liar! At long last 
I get him to make a price. But, on 
condition dat he bring ze animals 
around to iny inn in the morning, 
for a private audition." 

"I suppose," I interrupted, "you 
were beginning to have some doubts 
as to the Martian's good faith? 
After all, a talking tllooll and a 
talking shiyooch'iid all at one time 
is quite a lot to ask. I would 
have — " 

"Blease, vriend, blease!" inter- 
rupted my companion. "Do you not 
t'ink old Dworken knows dese 
things? Of course he does! I t'ink. 
De owner, he is pulling a fake, I 
guess. I know dat animals do not 
really talk, 

"Next morning, I t'ink he no 
show up. But no, I am mistaken. 
Brcmptly at nine o'clock he come to 
my inn with a little dogcart, wit' de 
animals. He puts dem on de stage 
in de bar of de inn. They act like 
before." 

"But they didn't talk, of course?" 

"Oh my vriend, dat's where you 
are wrong. Dey talk like nobotty's 
business. Dc jokes arc funnier than 
ever. Even dirtier, maybe. But 
Dworken is not fooled. He t'ink. 
'Aha!' I say to de Martian. 'You 
fake this, what? De animals not 
talk. Suppose you have them do de 
act while you outside stay, what?' 
Then X t'ink I have him. 



SHOW BUSINESS 



105 



"Ze Martian tear his curly hair, 
flash his black eyes. He takes insult 
that I t'ink he is fake. 'Name of de 
Martian gods!' he cry. But at last 
he agree to go away, and tell ani- 
mals to go ahead." 

"Dworken, you were a sap to 
string along with "him even that 
far," I said wearily. "I hope you 
hadn't paid the guy any money." 

He shook his head. "No, my old 
and best," he said. "Dworken no 
fool is, even on Mars. No, no 
money. But wait! De animals go on 
without the owner. Same stage busi- 
ness, same talk, same jokes, and 
even funnier yedt. What?" 

I started at Dworken. He did not 
smile, but finished off the eleventh 
shichikh — the fifth I had bought 
him. 

"Listen," I said. "Are you sitting 
there telling me you have a ttboll 
and a shiyoac-h'iid that can really 
talk?" 

"You listen, my vriend. Like you, 
f t'ink something is wrong. I say to 
Martian owner, 'My vriend, maybe 
I buy your act, if you tell me how it 



is done. But you. know as well as I 
do dat it is impossible to dese ani- 
mals to talk. Tell me what is de 
-trick?' " 

Dworken lifted his glass and 
shook it, as though he could not 
believe it was empty, then looked at 
me quest bningly. I shook my head. 
He snorted, looked melancholy, 
writhed up from his chair and 
reached for his fur cape. 

"Veil, thanks for de drinks," he 
said. 

A dark suspicion cfept into my 
mind, but f could not restrain my- 
self. 

"Wait, Dworken!" I shouted. 
"You can't just leave me up in the 
air like that! What happened 
then?" 

Dworken snorted into his green 
handkerchief. 

"De Martian admitted it was a 
fake, after all," he said mournfully. 
"Can you imachine it? What a 
chiseler! 

" 'De shlyooch'iid,' he said, 'can't 
really talk; de tllooll just t'rows his 
voice!' " 



THE PROBLEM of good and evil fascinates, then, especially when 
it is to be found externalized and purified in the thousands of 
semi-robots we are using and will use in the coming century. Our 
atomic knowledge destroys cancer or men. Our airplanes carry 
passengers or jellied gasoline bombs. The hairline, the human, 
choice is there. Before us today we see the aluminum and steel 
and uranium chess pieces which the interested science-fiction 
writer can hope to move about, trying to guess how man will play 
out the game. 

— Ray Bradbury in The Nation 



The man is rare who will give his life for what 
is merely the lesser of two evils. Merrick's deci- 
sion was even tougher: to save human beings 
at the expense of humanity, or vice versa? 



TURNING 



POINT 



By Alfred Coppel 

Illustrated by Philip Parsons 



THIS, THEN, was the Creche, 
Anno Domini 2500. A great, mile- 
square blind cube topping a ragged 
mountain; bare escarpments falling 
away to a turbulent sea. For five 
centuries the Creche had stood so, 
and the Androids had come forth 
in an unending stream to labor for 
Man, the Master . . . 
— Quintus Bland, The Romance of 
Genus Homo. 

DIRECTOR Han Merrick paced 
the floor nervously. His thin, 
almost ascetic face was pale and 
drawn. 

"We can't allow it, Virginia," he 
said, "Prying of .this sort can only 
precipitate a pogrom or worse. 
Erikson is a bigot of the worst kind. 
The danger—" He broke off help- 
lessly. 

His wife shook her head slowly. 
"It cannot be prevented, Han. 



Someone was bound to start asking 
questions sooner or later. History 
should have taught us that. And 
five hundred years of secrecy was 
more than anyone had a right to 
expect. Nothing lasts forever." 

The trouble is, Merrick told him- 
self, simply that I am the wrong 
man for this job. I should never 
have taken it. There's a- wrongness 
in what we are doing here that 
colors my every reaction and makes 
me incapable of acting on my own. 
Always the doubts and secret ques- 
tioning. If the social structure of 
our world weren't moribund, I 
wouldn't be here at all . . . 

"History, Virginia," he said^ 
"can't explain what there is no 
precedent for. The Creche is unique 
in human experience." 

"The Creche may be, Han, but 
Sweyn Erikson is not. Consider his 
background and tell me if there 
107 



103 



ALFRED COPPEL 



hasn't been an Erikson in every 
era of recorded history. He is mere- 
ly another obstacle in the path of 
progress that must be overcome. 
The job is yours, Han." 

"A pleasant prospect," Merrick 
replied bleakly. "I am an organizer, 
not a psychotechnkian. How am I 
supposed to protect the Creche 
from the likes of Erikson? What 
insanity bore this fruit, Virginia? 
The Prophet, the number one Fa- 
natic, coming here as an investiga- 
tor in the name of the Council of 
Ten! I realize the Council turns 
pale at the thought of the vote the 
Fanatics control, but surely some- 
thing could have been done! Have 
those idiots forgotten what we do 
here? Is that possible?" 

Virginia Merrick shook her head. 
"The stone got too hot for them to 
handle, so they've thrown it to 
you." 

"But Erikson, himself! The very 
man who organized the Human 
Supremacy Party and the Antirobot 
League! If he sets foot within the 
Creche it will mean an end to 
everything!" 

The woman lit a cigarette and 
inhaled deeply. "We can't keep him 
out and you know it. There's an 
army of Fanatics gathering out 
there in the hills this very minute. 
Armed with cortical-stimulant pro- 
jectors, Han. That isn't a pleasant 
way to die — " 

Merrick studied his wife care- 
fully. There was fear under her iron 
control. She was thinking of the 
shattering pain of death under 
the projectors. Nothing else, really. 
The Creche didn't matter to her. 
The Creche didn't really matter to 
any of the staff. Three hundred 



years ago it would have been differ- 
ent. The custodians of the Creche 
would have gladly died to preserve 
their trust in those times . . . 

What irony, Merrick thought, 
that it should come like this. He 
knew what the projectors did to 
men. He also knew what they did 
to robots. 

"If they dare to use their weap- 
ons on us it will wipe out every 
vestige of control work done here 
since the beginning," he said softly. 

"They have no way of knowing 
that." 

"Nor would they believe it if we 
told them." 

"And that brings us right back 
to where we started. You can't 
keep Erikson out, and the Council 
of Ten has left us on our own. They 
don't dare oppose the Fanatics. But 
there's an old political maxim you 
would do well to consider very 
carefully since ifs our only hope, 
Han," Virginia Merrick said, " 'If 
you can't beat someone — join 
him.' " 



SHE DRAGGED deeply on her 
cigarette, blue smoke curling 
from her gold-tinted lips. "This has 
been coming on for ten years. I 
tried to warn you then, but you 
wouldn't listen. Remember?" 

How like a woman, Merrick 
thought bitterly, to be saying I told 
you so. 

"What would you have me do, 
Virginia?" he asked, "Help the 
bigot peddle his robot-hate? That 
can't be the way. Don't you feel 
anything at all when the reports 
of pogroms come in?" 

Virginia Merrick shrugged. "Bet- 



TURNING POINT 



109 



ter they than we, Han." 

"Has it occurred to you that our 
whole culture might collapse if 
Erikson has his way?" 

"Antirobotism is natural to hu- 
man beings. Compromise is the only 
answer. Precautions have to be 
taken — " 

"Precautions!" exploded Mer- 
rick. "What sort of precautions can 
be taken against pure idiocy?" 

"The founding board of Psycho- 
technicians — " 

"No help from that source. You 
know that I've always felt the whole 
premise was questionable. On the 
grounds of common fairness, if 
nothing else." 

"Really, Han," Virginia snapped, 
"It was the only thing to do and 
you know it. The Creche is -the only 
safeguard the race has." 

"Now you sound like the Proph- 
et. In reverse." 

"We needn't argue the point." 

"No, I suppose not," the Director 
muttered. 

"Then what are you going to do 
when he gets here?" She ground 
out her cigarette anxiously. "The 
procession is in the ravine now. 
You had better decide quickly." 

"I don't know, Virginia. I just 
don't know." Merrick sank down 
behind his desk, hands toying with 
the telescreen controls. "I was never 
intended to make this sort of deci- 
sions. I feel helpless. Look here — " 

The image of the ravine glowed 
across the screen in brilliant relief. 
The densely timbered slopes were 
spotted with tiny purposeful figures 
in the grey robes that all Fanatics 
affected. Here and there the morn- 
ing sun caught a glint of metal as 
the Fanatics labored to set up their 



projectors. Along the floor of the 
ravine that was the only land ap- 
proach to the Creche moved the 
twisting, writhing snake of the pro- 
cession. The enraptured Fanatics 
were chanting their hate-songs as 
they came. In the first rank walked 
the leonine Erikson, his long hair 
whipping in the moisture-laden 
wind from the sea. 

With a muttered curse, Merrick 
flipped a toggle and the scene 
dimmed. The face of a secretary 
appeared superimposed on it. It 
was the expressionless face of an 
android, a fine example of the 
Creche's production line. "Get 
Graves up here," he ordered, "You 
may find him at Hypno-Ccntral or 
in Semantic Evaluation." 

"Very good, sir," intoned the 
android, fading from the screen. 

Merrick looked at his wife. 
"Maybe Graves and I can think of 
something." 

"Don't plan anything rash, 
Han." 

Merrick shrugged and turned 
back to watch the steady approach 
of the procession of grey-frocked 
zealots in the ravine. 

Graves appeared as the doorway 
dilated. He looked fearful and pale. 
"You wanted to see me, Han?" 

"Come in, Jon. Sit down." 

"Have you seen the projectors 
those crackpots have set up in the 
hills?" Graves demanded. 

"I have, Jon. That's what I 
wanted to talk to you about." 

"My God, Han! Do you have 
any idea of what it must feel like to 
die from cortical stimulation?" 
Graves' voice was tense and 
strained. "Can't we get out of here 
by 'copter?" 



no 



ALFRED COPPEL 



"No. The 'copters are both in 
Francisco picking up supplies. I 
ordered them out yesterday. Be- 
sides, that wouldn't settle anything. 
There are almost a* thousand an- 
droids in die Creche as of this 
morning. What about them?" 

Graves made a gesture of im- 
patience. " It's the humans I'm 
thinking about." 

Merrick forced down the bitter 
taste of disgust that welled into his 
throat and forced himself to go on. 
"We have to take some sort of ac- 
tion to protect the Creche, Jon. 
I've held off until the last moment, 
thinking the Council would never 
allow a Fanatic to investigate the 
Creche, but the Ten are more 
afraid of the HSP rubber stamp 
vote than they are of letting a 
thousand androids be slaughtered. 
But we can't leave it at that. If we 
don't prevent it, Erikson will pre- 
cipitate a pogrom that will make 
the Canalopolis massacre look like 
a tea-parly." For some reason he 
held back the information about the 
effect of the Fanatic weapon on 
robot tissue. The vague notion that 
knowing, Jon Graves might cast 
his lot with Erikson, restrained him. 

"Of course, Erikson will come in 
wearing an energy shield," Graves 
said. 

"He will. And we have none," 
Virginia Merrick said softly. 

"Can we compromise with him?" 
Graves asked. 

There it was again, Merrick 
thought, the weasel-word 'compro- 
mise.' There was a moral decay 
setting in everywhere- — the found- 
ers of the Creche would never have 
spoken so. "No," he said flatly, "We 
cannot. Erikson has conceived a 



robot-menace. All the old hate- 
patterns are being dusted off and 
used on the rabble. People are ac- 
tually asking one another if they 
would like their daughters to marry 
robots. That sort of thing, as old as 
homo sapiens. And one cannot com- 
promise with prejudice. It seduces 
the emotions and dulls the mind. 
No, there will be no appeasing of 
Sweyn Erikson or his grey-shirted 
nightriders!" 

"You're talking like a starry-eyed 
fool, Han," Virginia Merrick said 
sharply. 

"Can't we take him in and give 
him the works?" Graves asked 
hopefully. "Primary Conditioning 
could handle the job. Give him a 
fill-in with false memory?" 

Merrick shook his head. "We 
can't risk narcosynthesis and that's 
essential. He'll surely be tested for 
blood purity when he leaves, and 
scopolamine traces would be a dead 
give-away that we had been trying 
to hide something here." 

"Then it looks as though compro- 
mise is the only way, Han. They've 
got us up against the wall. See here, 
Han, I know you don't agree, but 
what else is there? After all, we all 
believe in human supremacy. Erik- 
son calls it a robot-menace, we look 
at it from another angle, but our 
common goal is the betterment of 
the human culture we've estab- 
lished. People are on an emotional 
jag now. There has been no war 
for five centuries. No emotional re- 
lease. And there have been regula- 
tions and conventions set up since 
the Atom War that only a very few 
officials have been allowed to un- 
derstand. Erikson is no savage, Han, 
after all. True he's set off a rash of 



TURNING POINT 



111 



robot-baiting, but he can be dealt 
with on an intelligent plane, I'm 
sure." 

"He is a man of ability, you 
know," Virginia Merrick said. 

"Ability," Merrick said bitterly. 
"Rabble rcuser and bigot! Look at 
his record. Organizer of the riots 
in Low Chicago. Leader in the 
Antirobot Labor League — the same 
outfit that slaughtered fifty robots 
in the Tycho dock strike. Think, 
you two! To tell such a man what 
the Creche is would be to tie a rope 
around the neck of every android 
alive. Lynch law! The rope and 
the whip for every one of them. 
And then suppose the worm turns? 
It can, you know! Our methods 
here are far from perfect. What 
then?" 

"I still say we must compromise," 
Graves said. "They will kill us if 
we don't — " 

"He's no troglodyte, Han, I'm 
certain — " Merrick's, wife said 
plaintively. 

The Director felt resistance flow- 
ing out of him. They were right, of 
course. There was nothing else he 
could do. 

"All right," Merrick's voice was 
low and tired. He felt the weight 
of his years settling down on him. 
"I'll do as you suggest. I'll try to 
lead him off the trail first — " that 
was his compromise with himself, 
he knew, and he hated himself for 
it— "and if I fail I'll tell him the 
whole truth." 

He flipped the telescreen toggle 
in time to see Sweyn Erikson detach 
himself from his followers and dis- 
appear through the dilated outer 
gate in the side of the Creche. A 
faint, almost futile stirring of de- 



fiance shook him. He found himself 
in the anomalous position of want- 
ing to defend something that he 
had long felt was wrong in concept 
from the beginning — and not be- 
ing able to take an effective course 
of action. 

He reached into his desk drawer 
and took out an ancient automatic. 
It was a family heirloom, heavy, 
black and deadly. He pulled back 
the slide and watched one of the 
still-bright brass cartridges snap up 
into the breech. He handled the 
weapon awkwardly, but as he 
slipped it into his jumper pocket 
some of the weariness slipped from 
him and a cold anger took its place. 
He looked calmly from his wife to 
Graves. 

"I'll tell him the whole truth." he 
said, "And if he fails to react as you 
two think he will, I shall kill him." 



SWEYN ERIKSON, in a pre- 
Atom War culture, might have 
been a dictator. But the devastation 
of the war had at long last resulted 
in a peaceful world-state, and 
where no nations exist, politics be- 
comes a sterile business of direction 
and supervision. It is war or the 
threat of war that gives a politician 
his power. Sweyn Erikson wanted 
power above all else. And so he 
founded a religion. 

He became the Prophet of the 
Fanatics. And since a cult must 
have an object of group hate as a 
raison-d'etre, he chose the androids. 
With efficiency and calculated sin- 
cerity, he beat the drums of prej- 
udice until his organization had 
spread its influence into the world's 
high places and his word became 



112 



ALFRfcD COPPEL 



the law of the land. 

People who beheld his feral mag- 
nificence, and listened to the spell- 
binding magic of his oratory— fol- 
lowed. His power sprang from the 
masses— unthinking, emotional. He 
gave the mob a voice and a pur- 
pose. He was like a Hitler or a Tor- 
quemada. Like a Long or a John 
Brown. He was savage and rapa- 
cious, courageous and bitter. He 
was Man. 

There were four cardinal pre- 
cepts by which the membership of 
the Human Supremacy Party lived. 
First, Man was God. Second, no 
race could share the plenum with 
Man, Had separate races still re- 
mained after the Atom War, the 
HSP racism might have been more 
specific, but since there remained 
only humanity en masse, all human 
beings shared the godhead. Third, 
the artificial persons that streamed 
from the Creche were blasphemy. 
Fourth, they must be destroyed. 
Like other generations before them, 
the humans of this age rallied to 
the banner of the whip and the 
rope. Not since the War had blood 
been spilled, but the destructive 
madness of homo sapiens found joy 
in the word of the Prophet, and 
though the blood was only the red 
sap of androids, the thrill was there. 

Thus had Sweyn Erikson, riding 
the intolerant wave of antirobotism, 
come to the Creche. He stood now, 
in the long bare foyer, waiting. Be- 
hind him lay the Party and the 
League. The Council of Ten was in 
hand and helpless. Upon his report 
to the world, the future of an entire 
robot-human culture pattern rested. 
This, he told himself, was the high 
point of his life. Naked power to 



use as he chose rested in his hands. 
The whole structure of world so- 
ciety was tottering. The choice was 
his and his alone. He could shore 
it up or shatter it and trample on 
the fragments. . . . 

The Prophet savored the mo- 
ment. He watched with interest as 
the door before him dilated. The 
Creche Director stood eyeing 
him half-fearfully, half -defiantly, 
flanked by his wife and his assistant. 
They were all three afraid for their 
lives, Erikson thought with satisfac- 
tion. 

"We welcome you to the 
Creche," Han Merrick said formal- 

k- 

"Let there be no ceremony," 
Erikson said, "I am a simple man." 

Merrick's lips tightened. "You 
haven't come here for ceremony. 
There will be none." 

"I came for truth," the Prophet 
said sonorously. "The people of the 
world are waiting for my words. 
The mask of secrecy must be ripped 
from this place and truth and 
knowledge allowed to wash it 
clean." 

Merrick almost winced. The 
statement was redundant with the 
propaganda that Erikson's night- 
riders peddled on every street cor- 
ner. It betokened an intellectual 
bankruptcy among men that was 
frightening. 

"I shall do my best to allay your 
fears," he said thickly. 

Erikson's eyes glittered with sus- 
picion. "I need only a guide. The 
decisions I shall make for myself. 
And mind that I am shown every 
concealed place. The roots of this 
place must be laid bare. 'For God 
shall bring every work into judg- 



TURNING POINT 



113 



ment, with every secret thing; 
whether it be good or whether it 
be evil.' The Scriptures command 
it in the name of Man, the True 
God." 

Twisted, pious, hypocrite! 
thought Merrick. 

"I am sure, sir," Graves was say- 
ing placatingly, "that when we 
have shown you the Creche you will 
see that there is no menace." 

Erikson scowled at Graves delib- 
erately. "There is menace enough 
in the blasphemy of android life, 
my son. Everywhere there are signs 
of unrest among the things you 
have built here. On Mars, human 
beings have died at their hands!" 

Merrick's face showed his disgust. 
"Frankly, I don't believe that. 
Androids don't kill." 

"We shall see, my son," Erikson 
said settling the belt of his energy 
screen more comfortably about his 
hips. "We shall see." 

Merrick studied Erikson's face. 
There was a tiny scar under his 
chin. That would be where the 
transmitter was planted. He had no 
doubt that every word of this con- 
versation was heing monitored by 
the Fanatics outside the Creche. 
The turning point was coming in- 
exorably nearer. He only hoped that 
he had the physical and moral cour- 
age to face it when it arrived. 

"Very well, Sweyn Erikson," he 
said finally. "Please come with me." 



FOUR HOURS later they were 
in Merrick's office. The prelim- 
inary stage of his plan had failed, 
just as he had known it would. He 
was almost glad. It had been a 
vacillating expediency, an attempt 



to hide the facts and avoid the ne- 
cessity of facing the challenge 
squarely. Stage two was about to 
begin, and this time there would be 
no temporizing. 

The Prophet glared angrily across 
the desk-top. "Do you take me for 
a child? You have shown me noth- 
ing. Where are the protoplasm vats? 
The brain machines? Where are the 
bodies assembled? I warned you 
against trickery, Han Merrick!" 

Merrick glanced across the room 
at his wife. She sat rigid in her 
chair, her face a pale mask. He 
would get no help from her. 

"You must realize, Erikson," he 
said, "That you are forcing me to 
jeopardize five centuries of work 
for the chimera of Human Suprem- 
acy. Let me warn you now that 
your life is of no importance to me 
when balanced against that. When 
the Board of Psychotechnirians ap- 
pointed my family custodians of the 
Creche centuries ago, they did so 
because they knew we would keep 
faith—" 

"The last member of the found- 
ing Board died more than two hun- 
dred years ago," snapped the 
Prophet. 

"But the Creche is here, and I am 
here to guard it as my forefathers 
did," Merrick said. Once again he 
was conscious of a strange ambiv- 
alence in his attitude. He must 
guard something he considered 
wrong against the intrusion of a 
danger even more wrong. His hand 
sought the scored grip of the old 
automatic in his pocket. Could he 
actually kill? 

"You speak of Human Suprem- 
acy as a chimera," Sweyn Erikson 
said, "It is no such thing. It is the 



114 



ALFRED COPPEL 



only vital force left in the world. 
Robotism is a menace more deadly, 
a blasphemy more foul than any 
Black Mass of history. You are mak- 
ing Man into an anachronism on 
the face of his own planet. This 
cannot be! / will not let it be . . ." 

Merrick stared. Gould it be that 
the man actually believed that the 
poison he peddled was the food of 
the gods? 

"I will try one last attempt at 
reason, Erikson," Merrick said 
deliberately. ''Look back with an 
unprejudiced mind, if you can, over 
the centuries since the Atom War. 
What do you see?" 

"I see Man emasculated by the 
robot!" 

"No! You see atomic power har- 
nessed and in use for the first time 
aFter almost a millcnium of mud- 
dling. You see Man standing on the 
Moon and the habitable planets — 
and soon to reach out for the stars! 
A new Golden Age is dawning, 
Prophet! And why? Whence have 
come the techniques?" Even as he 
spoke, Merrick knew he was ig- 
noring the obvious, the all-too-ap- 
parent cracks in the social structure 
that no scientific miracles could 
cure. But were those cracks tin 1 
fault of robotism or were they in 
fact a failing inherent in Man him- 
self? He was not prepared to answer 
that. "From where are the tech- 
niques drawn?" he asked again. 

biikson met his glance squarely. 
"Not from the mindless horrors you 
spawn here!" 

"Emotionless, Prophet," cor- 
rected Merrick pointedly, "Not 
mindless." 

"Soulless! Soulless and mindless, 
too. Never have these zombies been 



able to think as men!" 

"They are not men." 

"Nor are they the architects of 
the future!" 

"I think you arc wrong, Pro- 
phet," Merrick said softly. 

"Man is the ultimate," Erikson 
said. 

"You talk like a fool," snapped 
Merrick. 

"Han!" There was naked terror 
in his wife's voice, but he rushed on, 
ignoring it. 

"How dare you say that Man is 
the ultimate? What right have you 
to assume that nature has stopped 
experimenting?" 

Sweyn Erikson's lip curled scorn- 
fully. "Can you be implying that 
the robots — " 

Merrick leaned across the desk 
to shout full in the Prophet's face: 
"YOU fool! They're not robots!" 

The robed man was suddenly on 
his feet, face livid. 

"Han!" cried Virginia Merrick, 
"Not that way!" 

"This is my affair now, Virginia. 
I'll handle it in my own way!" the 
Director said. 

"Remember the mob outside!" 

Merrick turned agate-hard eyes 
on his wife. Presently he looked 
away and said to the Prophet. 
"Now I will show you the real 
Creche!" 



THERE WERE robots every- 
where — blank-eyed, like sleep 
walkers. They reacted to com- 
mands. They moved and breathed 
and fed themselves. Under rigid 
control they performed miracles of 
intuitive calculation. But artificiali- 
ty was stamped upon them like a 



TURNING POINT 



115 



brand. They were not human. 

In the lowest vaults of the 
Creche, Merrick showed the Proph- 
et the infants. He withheld noth- 
ing. He showed him the growing 
creatures. He explained to him the 
tests and signs that were looked for 
in the hospitals maintained by the 
World State and the Council of 
Ten. He let him watch the young 
ones taking their Primary Condi- 
tioning. Courses of hypnotic in- 
struction. Rest, narcosyn thesis. Se- 
mantics. Drugs and words and more 
words pounding on young brains 
like sledgehammer blows, shaping 
them into something acceptable in 
a sapient world. 

In other chambers, other age 
groups. Emotion and memory being 
moulded into something else by 
hypnopedia. Faces becoming blank 
and expressionless. 

"Their minds are conditioned — 
enslaved," Merrick said bitterly. 
"Then they are primed with scien- 
tific facts. Those techniques we dis- 
cussed. This is where they come 
from, Prophet. From the minds of 
your despised androids. Only will is 
suppressed, and emotion. They are 
shaped for the sonography of a 
sapient culture. They mature very 
slowly. We keep them here for from 
ten to fifteen years. No human 
brain could stand it — but theirs 
can." 

Truth dangled before his eyes, 
but Erikson's mind savagely re- 
jected it. The pillars upon which 
he had built his life were crum- 
bling . . . 

The two men stood in a vast hall 
filled with an insidious, whispering 
voice. On low pallets, fully a score 
of physically mature androids lay 



staring vacuously at a spinning crys- 
tal high in the apex of the domed 
ceiling. 

" — you had no life before you 
where created here to serve Man 
the master you had no life before 
you were created here to serve Man 
the master you had — " the voice 
whispered into the hypnotized 
brains. 

"Don't look up,'* Merrick 
warned. "The crystal can catch a 
human being faster than it can 
them. This is hypnotic engineering. 
The rhythm of the syllables and 
their proportion to the length of 
word and sentence are computed to 
correspond to typed encephalo- 
graphic curves. Nothing is left to 
chance. When they have reached 
this stage of conditioning they are 
almost ready for release and pur- 
chase by human beings. Only a 
severe stimulation of the brain can 
break down the walls we have built 
in their minds." 

Erikson made a gesture as though 
darkness were streaking his vision. 
He was shaken badly. "But where 
do they — where do they come 
from?" 

"The State maternity hospitals, 
of course," Merrick said, "Where 
else? The parents are then sterilized 
by the Health and Welfare Author- 
ity as an added safeguard. Births 
occur at a ratio of about one for 
every six million normals.*' He 
smiled mirthlessly at the Prophet 
of Human Supremacy. "Well? Lit- 
tle man, what now?" 

Honest realization still refused 
to come. It needed to be put into 
words, and Sweyn Erikson had no 
such words. "I see only that you are 
taking children of men and dis- 



116 



ALFRED COPPEL 



figuring—" 

"For the last time," gritted Mer- 
rick, "These are not human beings. 
Genus homo, yes. Homo chaos, if 
you choose. But not homo sapiens. 
I think of them," he said with sud- 
den calm, "As Homo Supremus. 
The next step on the evolutionary 
ladder . . ." 

At last the words had been spo- 
ken and the flood gates were down 
in the tortured brain of the Prophet. 
Like a sudden conflagration, real- 
ization came — and with it, blind 
terror. 

"No! Nonono! You cannot con- 
tinue this devil's work! Think what 
it would mean if these things should 
ever be loosed on the world of 
Man!" the Prophet's voice was a 
steadily rising shrill of fear. 

Han Merrick looked out across 
the rows of pallets, each with its 
burden of a superman, bound like 
Prometheus to the rock, helpless in 
hypnotic chains. It struck him again 
that his life had not been well spent. 
He looked from his charges to the 
ranting fear-crazed rabble-rouser. 
The contrast was too shocking, too 
complete. For the "androids" were, 
in fact, worthy of a dignity even 
in slavery that homo sapiens had 
never attained in overlordship. 
Merrick knew at last what he must 
do. 

Racial loyalty stirred, but was 
quickly smothered in the humilia- 
tion of man's omnipresent thievery. 
For it was thievery, Merrick 
thought. Man was keeping for him- 
self the heritage that was the right- 
ful property of a newer, better race. 

He took the automatic from his 
jumper and leveled it at Erikson's 
chest. He felt very sure and right. 



Though he knew that he was seal- 
ing the death warrant of his wife 
and his friends, the memory of their 
vacillations anesthetized him 
against any feeling of loss. He 
waited until Erikson screamed one 
word into the transmitter imbedded 
in his flesh — 
The word was: "Attack!" 
— and in the next instant, Han 
Merrick shot him dead. 



THE FANATICS on the ridges 
heard the Prophet's command 
and sprang to comply. Energy swept 
out of the grids, through the coils of 
the proj ectors and out over the 
blind cube of the Creche. 

Han Merrick felt the first radia- 
tions. He felt the beginnings of cor- 
tical hypertrophy and screamed. 
Every synapse sagged under the in- 
creasing load of sensitivity. The 
pressure of the air became an un- 
bearable burden, the faintest sound 
became a shattering roar. Every 
microscopic pain, every cellular 
process became a rending, tearing 
agony. He screamed and the sound 
was a cataclysmic, planet-smashing 
hell of noise within his skull. He 
sagged to the floor and thinking 
stopped. He contracted himself, 
pulling legs and arms inward in a 
massive convulsion until at last he 
had assumed the foetal position. 
After a long while, he died. 

Every human being within the 
Creche died so, but there was still 
life. The energy that killed the less- 
er creature freed the greater — just 
as Merrick had known it would. 
Unhuman matter pulsed under the 
caressing rain. A thousand beings 
shuddered at the sudden release of 



TURNING POINT 



117 



their chains. The speakers ranted 
unheard. The crystals turned un- 

watched. The bonds forged by 
homo sapiens snapped and there 
came — 

Maturity. 

THIS, NOW, is the Creche, Anno 
Domini 3000. A great mile-square 
blind cube topping a ragged moun- 



tain; bare escarpments falling away 
to a turbulent sea. For ten centuries 
the Creche has stood so, and the 
Androids still come forth, now to 
lift their starships to the Magellanic 
Clouds and beyond. A Golden Age 
has come. But, of course, Man is no 
longer the Master. 
— Quintus Bland, The Romance of 
Genus Homo, 



WORTH CITING: 



PRIZE SCIENCE FICTION, 
edited by Donald A. Woll- 
heim. McBride, New York, 
1953, 230 pp. ($3.00). 

Another in a long line of an- 
thologies, this volume's gim- 
mick is its inclusion of the selec- 
tions of the Jules Verne Prize 
Committee for 1952. In other 
words, it's a presentation of the 
year's 12 "most distinguished" 
science fiction stories as chosen 
by Donald A. Wollheim, Otto 
v. St. Whitelock, and Forrest 
J. Ackerman. These gentlemen 
are among the top experts in 
the field, and their choices 
should be worthy of attention, 
no matter what the purpose or 
restrictions. 

Three of the 12 stories pub- 
lished, as it happens, are from 
IF. Four other magazines score 
two each, and the final con- 
tender has one story to its 
credit. The stories that origi- 
nally appeared in this maga- 



zine are Mcllvaine's Star by 
August Derleth, The Beautiful 
Woman by Charles Beaumont, 
and The Peacemaker by Alfred 
Coppel, Other authors in- 
cluded are Arthur C. Clarke, 
Robert Donald Locke, Martin 
Pearson and Cecil Corwin, 
C. M. Kornbluth, Leigh Brack- 
et!, Gordon R. Dickson, Mark 
Clifton, Eric Frank Russell 
and Walter M. Miller, Jr. 

It would be difficult to pick 
favorites, even if the reviewer 
were completely unbiased. Nat- 
urally, your editors stand be- 
hind the stories from IF as 
among the best available any- 
where. Kornbluth's The Altar 
at Midnight and Clifton's Star, 
Bright also seem worthy of spe- 
cial mention, though. 

It's a small volume, as an- 
thologies go, but a well-de- 
signed, well-made book which 
aims for and achieves quality 
rather than quantity. 




SCIENCE 



BRIEFS 



Weather Man's Holiday 

"C VERYBODY TALKS about 
■*-' the weather" is an old saw, 
but when weather men themselves 
talk, they put new teeth in it. Their 
discussions are considerably more 
involved than "Hot enough for 
you?" — and of considerably more 
interest to science fiction readers. 

This year's meeting of the Ameri- 
can Meteorological Society in New 
York City, for instance, heard talks 
on the weather on Mars and Ju- 
piter, sun spot cycles, and 200 mile- 
an-hour winds high in the sky. 

The atmosphere of Jupiter was 
discussed by Dr. Yale Mintz of the 
University of California, that of 
Mars by Dr. Jean I. F. King of the 
Air Force's Cambridge Research 
Center. The huge, impervious 
clouds surrounding Jupiter, said Dr. 
Mintz, are formed by its atmosphere 
of methane' ("marsh gas") and 
ammonia gas with a little nascent 
hydrogen and helium. The spots 
which have long puzzled astrono- 
mers appear in many respects to be 
like the high level cyclones in the 
earth's upper atmosphere and may 
— or may not — be related to the 
activity of the sun. 

Measurements of the atmosphere 
of Mars are easier than those of the 
atmosphere of the earth, according 



118 



to Dr. King, because the Martian 
atmosphere has no oxygen and is 
thought to be water-free. The al- 
bedo — reflecting power — of Mars is 
known to an accuracy of three deci- 
mal points, that of the earth at best 
to only two. 

This Martian atmosphere ap- 
pears to be stable up to an altitude 
of four and a half miles, Dr. King 
said. Studies suggest that the sur- 
face temperature is about 240 de- 
grees on the Kelvin scale, or 28 
below zero Fahrenheit, and that at 
four and a half miles up this drops 
to 200 degrees Kelvin, or 99 below 
zero. 

As for sun spots, Dr. Donald H. 
Menzel of the Harvard College Ob- 
servatory reported that they do 
come in 1 1- and 22-year cycles, but 
that though many attempts have 
been made to establish relationships 
between these cycles and our 
weather, no reliable correlation has 
been found. 

Dr. Fred B. Whipple, head of the 
Harvard University Department of 
Astronomy, pointed out that as- 
tronomers have no explanation for 
how solar disturbances could have a 
direct effect on the earth's weather. 
And Dr. Bernhard Haurwitz, chair- 
man of the Department of Meteor- 
ology and Oceanography of New 
York University, summed it up: "I 
am inclined to think that there is 
some relation between solar events 
and the weather here on earth. But, 
dam it, what is it?" 

The invisible jet-speed streams of 
wind high in the skies, which may 
be detected by the observation of 
cloud formations, were described by 
Dr. Vincent J. Schaefer, of the 
General Electric Company's re- 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 

search laboratories. These hurri- 
canes of the higher regions, known 
to meteorologists for only a few 
years, are usually 80 to 100 miles 
wide and travel at speeds up to 200 
miles an hour around the world, 
usually from west to east. Besides 
cloud types, clues to their presence 
are found in gustiness at ground 
level, cool crisp air, blue skies with 
unlimited visibility, and precipita- 
tion limited to sporadic sprinkles of 
rain or snow. Further observation of 
these winds should enable airplanes 
to use them to good advantage in 
the near future. 

The Long-Lost Virus 

A DEADLY VIRUS, lost for 35 
years, was found again recently 
in the University of Michigan lab- 
oratories. And scientists concerned 
were amazed to discover that it was 
still alive. 

The virus was originally discov- 
ered in 1909 by Dr. Frederick G. 
Novy, the university's famed bac- 
teriologist, since retired. It was so 
deadly that one ten-billionth of a 
drop would kill a rat. After it had 
been watched closely for 10 years, 
the test tubes containing it were lost 
during a change in laboratory per- 
sonnel in 1918. 

When the box containing the (est 
tubes was rediscovered recently, Dr. 
Novy was consulted immediately. 
Experiments made under his direc- 
tion showed that the virus had lost 
some of its potency, but still killed 
75% of the laboratory rats infected 
with it in three to 1 1 days. 

What the effect of the virus 
would be on human beings is not 
known. 



119 

Poker in the Test Tube 

"pOKER, under strict laboratory 
■*- conditions but in which bluffing 
and cheating are not only permitted 
but encouraged, is being played at 
the University of Wisconsin. You 
don't have to have a huge stack of 
chips to get into the game, but you 
must have a command of advanced 
calculus! 

The idea is to collect material for 
Prof. R. Creighton Buck's course in 
the "theory of games," which is a 
complex and important mathemat- 
ical concept. It was first formulated 
by John von Neumann in 1927, and 
defines a game as any situation in 
which groups with conflicting in- 
terests participate but over which 
they have only partial control. 

Prof. Buck, who has occasionally 
written science fiction, points out 
examples in economics, military 
strategy, and other important 
phases of modern life. The buyer- 
seller relationship, he says, is essen- 
tially a game played by opponents 
who do not have full knowledge of 
each other's intentions or decisions. 

The United States armed forces 
recognized the importance of prac- 
tical applications of the theory of 
games early in World War II, and 
developed many of von Neumann's 
concepts in what they call "opera- 
tional research." Prof. Buck chose 
poker for his own research because 
it has always been considered the 
game in which human behavior can 
be studied to best advantage. 

New Theory on Cancer 

A LACK of oxygen may he a fac- 
^ tor in the development of can- 



120 



SCIENCE BRIEFS 



cer, it is indicated by experiments in 
Lebanon Hospital's Institute for 
Medical Research in Los Angeles. 

The most significant difference 
about this research is that for the 
first time normal cells growing in 
laboratory cultures have been trans- 
formed into cancerous cells without 
the use of cancer-inducing chemi- 
cals, The change was brought about 
by intermittently depriving the test 
cells of oxygen over a period of 
many months. 

The research does not necessarily 
prove that lack of oxygen is an im- 
portant factor, but it does shed a 
good deal of new light on the be- 
havior of cells. 

Wristwatch TV 

YOU'LL CARRY your tele- 
-*- phone with you in the future, 
and it'll be equipped with a tiny 
television screen so you can see 
the person at the other end of the 
"line"! So says Dr. Harold S. Os- 
borne, former chief engineer of the 
American Telephone and Tele- 
graph Co. 

The device will be about the size 
of a modern watch, as Dr. Osborne 
envisions it, so it will be perfectly 
natural to wear it on a wristband. 
Furthermore, he believes that every 
human being will be assigned his 
personal, permanent telephone and 
registration number at birth. 
Dr, Osborne doesn't go into the 



difficulties this may create for peo- 
ple who merely want to be alone — 
or the possible embarrassment to 
absent-minded souls who may for- 
get to remove their "wristwatches" 
before taking a shower! 

Esophagi Made to Order 

AT CHILDREN'S Hospital in 
■ Los Angeles recently, a baby 
was born without an esophagus. 
This malformation, called atresia, 
occurs about once in 4,000 births, 
seems to run in families, and is often 
fatal. At least, it was in the past. 
This time, a surgeon succeeded in 
"building" an esophagus in the 
three-day-old infant. 

He did it by transplanting a six- 
inch section of the baby's large in- 
testine, with its original blood and 
nerve connections, to the position of 
the missing organ. 

Normally, the esophagus con- 
nects the throat with the stomach. 
In some cases of atresia, it is con* 
nected to the windpipe instead of 
the throat. These cases can often be 
remedied by an operation, but this 
is only the second case in history in 
which a substitute has been found 
and successfully inserted for a com- 
pletely missing tube. 

The doctor who performed the 
operation had tried it successfully 
on animals, and had waited ten 
years for a chance to use it on a hu- 
man being. 







ENGINES ON again momentarily, the rocket comes in over the 
eastern coastline of the United States ond heads North over the 
Great Lakes at a height of about 1,000 miles. The captain awaits 
his landing pattern instructions, not yet knowing whether he will 
touch down tail-first or come in flat with brakes on. 

(Drawings by Ed Valigursky)